Center for Auto Safety names new head after long vacancy

WASHINGTON — The Center for Auto Safety named Michael Brooks its new executive director, effective Thursday.

Brooks, 48, most recently was acting executive director of the consumer advocacy group, following the departure of former leader Jason Levine in December.

Automotive News first reported Levine’s resignation. He is now executive director of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Brooks joined the Center for Auto Safety as a staff attorney in 2000. Before Levine’s departure, he worked since 2017 as the organization’s chief counsel and COO. He is a graduate of George Washington University Law School and Millsaps College.

“The center has a rich history of ensuring an independent voice in the nation’s capital on vehicle safety and quality issues,” Brooks said in a statement Thursday.

“I hope to continue that tradition,” he continued, “as we enter an age where our cars are rapidly turning into computers on wheels, bringing not only revolutionary safety potential but also new and more complex challenges to public safety on our roads.”

Jack Gillis, chair of the center’s board of directors, said Brooks has the board’s “full confidence” and “is an experienced and effective auto safety leader and advocate.”

The center was founded in 1970 and has pushed for lemon laws in every state, airbags in every vehicle, free recall repairs and more transparency in automaker and government vehicle safety activities.

It said that under Brooks’ leadership, the center will maintain its watchdog role and continue to advocate for consumers as U.S. traffic deaths surge to record-high levels.

Joan Claybrook, former NHTSA administrator, referred to Brooks as “one of the most knowledgeable individuals in the nation about government requirements for vehicle safety advances since the law was enacted in 1966.”

“His mission will be to push for timely upgrading of existing vehicle safety standards, demand new standards for the new technologies being developed, and assure the recall of defective systems to protect public safety,” she said. “He is highly qualified to secure these goals.”

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