Obama proposes NHTSA budget freeze for third consecutive year

United States President Barack Obama has released several details of his budget proposal for 2011, and among them is a plan to freeze National Highway Transportation Safety Administration funding for the third straight year. According to Obama's proposal, NHTSA will maintain a non-inflation adjusted $18 million budget for next year, in addition to funding changes to individual programs.

In the midst of one of the most publicized safety recalls in recent memory, Obama is proposing to essentially cut funding for NHTSA by freezing the budget for a third straight year - failing to accommodate for inflation, according to critics. NHTSA officials have noted that in the past decade funding has already been critically low - forcing the safety administration to drop investigations due to a lack of funds.

Delving further into the details of the proposed NHTSA budget, it appears as if the enforcement budget will remain at $18 million for the third straight year, while the research and analysis budget will be slashed by $5 million.

Although the enforcement and research and development budgets will suffer for 2011, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that the budget would allow for a $12 million funding increase to make improvements to the New Car Assessment Program Five-Star Safety Rating System. The system is responsible for designating crash-test safety ratings for new vehicles in order to provide consumers and insurance companies with standardized safety ratings.

The changes to the safety rating system were first denied funding by former President George W. Bush as his administration delayed new funding for the program until the 2011 model year, according to Detroit News.