WASHINGTON, D.C. – The head of the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA), Jeffrey Runge, has been named the new
chief medical officer at the Department of Homeland Security.
Runge served as NHTSA administrator for four years and focused on trying
to reduce the death toll from highway accidents, including a campaign
of pressing for financial incentives to states that adopt strict
Runge drew ire from some quarters of the auto industry when he
commented about the risk and danger of rollover accidents and other
safety issues involving large SUVs. Yet he also argued against strict deadlines on strengthening car roofs and other safety measures. Runge plans to step down in late August.
"Jeff has been a bold advocate and tireless proponent of improved
vehicle and highway safety the last four years. We are all a little
bit safer because of his dedication to the safety cause,"
Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said in a statement.
Runge, 49, a former emergency room physician from Charlotte, N.C., has
held his current job since August 2001. As chief medical officer at
Homeland Security, he would oversee bioterrorism policy and coordinate
responses to any biological attacks.