UPDATED AT 4:30
The nation's top auto safety regulator has joined Venable as a partner, the firm announced today.
David Strickland has headed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration since January 2010, where he oversaw the development of the first national fuel efficiency program, issued the first vehicle standards to help keep passengers from being ejected from vehicles during a rollover crash and brought national attention to child passenger safety issues.
On his watch the agency also issued a report concluding stuck floor mats and faulty gas pedals were to blame for instances of sudden unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles. The agency fined Toyota a record $17 million in late 2012 for failing to promptly report a safety defect in Lexus sport utility vehicles at risk of floor mat pedal entrapment. Toyota was also fined nearly $49 million in 2010 for its handling of vehicle recalls.
Prior to his term at NHTSA, Strickland, who earned his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1993, spent eight years on the staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation as senior counsel.
At Venable, he’ll join the regulatory group, focusing on technology and consumer protection issues related to the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and NHTSA, he said in an interview. “I’m very, very excited to be joining Venable,” he said. “It’s an amazing group of folks doing very thoughtful and innovative work.”
One area ripe for future legal work is the confluence of vehicle technology, data privacy, connectivity and safety, he said. Such issues are likely to arise with the development of self-driven cars and vehicle-to-vehicle communication. Strickland’s last day at NHTSA is Jan. 17, and he expects to start work at Venable after a brief vacation.