Obama Pick for Highway Safety Chief, MADD’s Hurley, Withdraws

May 14, 2009

President Barack Obama’s choice to lead a federal highway safety agency has withdrawn his name for the post, the White House said.

The Obama administration said in April it intended to nominate Chuck Hurley to become the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Hurley, who was not formally nominated, is chief executive officer for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

The White House and MADD declined comment on Hurley’s reason for withdrawing. Some environmental groups had questioned Hurley’s commitment to tougher fuel-efficiency requirements and his ties to automakers. MADD has received funding from several auto companies, including General Motors Corp., Toyota Motor Corp. and Ford Motor Co.

The federal agency sets fuel-efficiency and safety requirements for car companies and oversees highway safety programs.

Obama worked with Hurley while serving as a state senator in Illinois to strengthen the state’s auto safety laws. Hurley has also worked for the National Safety Council and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

At MADD, Hurley has pushed states to adopt tougher drunken driving laws and require first-time offenders to use ignition interlock devices on their cars. The devices require drivers to blow into an instrument that measures alcohol and prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver’s blood alcohol concentration exceeds a certain level.

MADD, a Texas-based nonprofit organization, was instrumental in pushing Congress to set aside federal highway funds for anti-drunken driving efforts and to raise the minimum drinking age to 21.

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