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Nhtsa Has No Software Engineers or Ees To Analyze Toyotas

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wrecked Toyota Prius

Wrecked Toyota Prius owned by Elizabeth James.

Credit: Ted James / Houston Press

Sometimes you see something you just can't believe. Today's candidate is a single sentence in The Washington Post discussing Congressional investigation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's response to multiple reports of Toyota safety problems. It says: "NHTSA officials told investigators that the agency doesn't employ any electrical engineers or software engineers."

To say our jaw dropped would be woefully inadequate. A modern luxury car has something close to 100 million lines of software code in it, running on 70 to 100 microprocessors. Software controls the vehicle, the operation of its engine, the mapping of the transmission shift points . . . the list could go on for pages. If the NHTSA cannot properly analyze those systems, or even understand at a deep-code level how they work, then the agency is useless at overseeing the entire "Safety" part of its mandate.

The NHTSA has an annual budget of more than $800 million, and it employs 635 people. That not a single one of them is an EE or software engineer borders on the criminally insane.

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