Lawrence University Economist Named to National Academy of Sciences Committee Investigating Unintended Automobile Acceleration

David Gerard, associate professor of economics at Lawrence University, is participating in a National Academy of Sciences  committee study reviewing evidence to identify possible causes of unintended acceleration in motor vehicles in the aftermath of Toyota’s large recalls.

The independent, 17-member Committee on Electronic Vehicle Controls and Unintended Acceleration was formed at the request of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to review electronic throttles and other systems used throughout the auto industry. The study is part of the federal government’s efforts to learn what led to two massive recalls in late 2009 and in January of this year.

David Gerard_09 _web
David Gerard

While much of the unintended acceleration problem has been focused on Toyota, according to Administrator David Strickland, the NHTSA has received complaints related to this problem for every major vehicle manufacturer.

The National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences organized the committee and held its first meeting in March.  At that meeting, the committee identified several additional areas of expertise it wanted to include and Gerard, along with three other members, were added.  The committee will meet several more times, including August 2-3 in Detroit.  It is expected to deliver its final report to the NHTSA by the end of June 2011.

Gerard, who joined the Lawrence faculty in 2009, specializes in risk regulations and public policy, including the interrelationships between regulations and technological change in the U.S. auto industry. He is also part of the development team for TrafficSTATS, an interactive web-based ,tool used to compare and communicate traffic safety risks.

Prior to coming to Lawrence, Gerard spent eight years on the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University, where he was the executive director of the Center for the Study and Improvement of Regulation in the Department of Engineering & Public Policy.  Gerard blogs regularly for Lawrence students and alumni and “fellow travelers.”