Statement of Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook on Appointment of Norman Mineta as Transportation Secretary

Jan. 2, 2001

Statement of Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook on Appointment of Norman Mineta as Transportation Secretary

Norman Mineta is intimately familiar with transportation safety issues. He will come to the Department of Transportation at a time when the lessons learned from the Firestone tire tragedy are still fresh in the minds of the public and policymakers. This episode shows clearly that a strong regulatory presence is essential to assuring safety for the traveling public.

The animosity toward regulation during the Reagan years laid the groundwork for the Firestone tragedy through budgetary cutbacks and backsliding on safety issues. But now we have the opportunity to move forward. In the recently passed TREAD Act, Congress assigned a number of critical responsibilities to the DOT. There is a large agenda that needs to be carried out, not set aside for ideological reasons.

We applaud Mr. Minetas comment about bipartisanship. Highway users are both Democratic and Republican, and all want their families to be as safe as possible. This will be achieved only through strong safety and enforcement policies. The DOT needs to impose new standards to protect people in rollovers. It needs to update the tire, seat structure and roof-crush safety standards as well as new safety standards for the trucking industry.

We look forward to strong and vigorous enforcement by Mr. Mineta.

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Joan Claybrook served as administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 1977 to 1981.