The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s director, Steven Cliff, will step down from his position in September, according to a statement released by the Department of Transportation on Friday.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement to CNBC that Cliff’s responsibilities will be taken over by Ann Carlson, the NHTSA’s chief counsel.

Cliff, who took over as NHTSA’s administrator in early June, is resigning to become the director of the California Air Resources Board, a climate agency tasked with lowering air pollution in the state.

Following Richard Corey’s retirement at the end of June, CARB announced on Friday that Cliff had been chosen as the organization’s new CEO. Cliff worked on new fuel economy standards and vehicle safety regulations during his time with the NHTSA, which are meant to improve safety for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. The agency is dealing with worries about the safety of the batteries in electric vehicles and the software that controls cars more and more as more sophisticated technologies have been adopted by automakers.

The Autopilot, Full Self-Driving And FSD Beta Systems Available From Tesla

The Autopilot, Full Self-Driving And FSD Beta Systems Available From Tesla
Image Source: TechCrunch

Because of how frequently the driver assistance software fails, automotive safety advocates, including Ralph Nader, have been urging NHTSA to prevent Tesla from testing incomplete driver assistance software with regular customers on public U.S. roads.

Cliff convinced the organisation to issue a “standing general order,” which requires automakers to give NHTSA information on fatal and other significant collisions involving their vehicles and more advanced automated driving systems (ADAS).

Tesla’s Autopilot, Full Self-Driving and FSD Beta systems, Ford’s Blue Cruise, and Cadillac’s SuperCruise are ADAS options that are available in consumer vehicles. None of them produce vehicles that are reliable to operate without a careful driver. Robotaxis are being developed by Waymo, Cruise, and other companies and include automated driving systems.

Cliff served as the NHTSA’s deputy administrator from February 2021 until President Joe Biden nominated him in October to take over as administrator.

Cliff’s service at the organisation and efforts “to protect the lives of the American people by strengthening the safety of motor vehicles and reducing their emissions” were acknowledged by Secretary Buttigieg.

NHTSA declined to provide any additional information regarding Cliff’s departure’s circumstances.