After four years as head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Jeffrey W. Runge has left NHTSA to assume the post of first chief medical officer at the Department of Homeland Security. Runge was an outspoken advocate for automobile safety. His 2003 observation that he would not let his own child drive a vehicle that received no more than two stars in government rollover ratings led to an change in the way that automobile makers approached SUV design.

Runge also led a national campaign to increase the nation's use of safety belts. The result was a 7-percentage point increase to a record 80 percent nationwide use. This translated into savings of more than 1,800 lives each year and more than $5 billion. During Runge's tenure, the nation also saw its first decrease in alcohol-related highway fatalities in many years, and the largest decrease in the alcohol-related fatality rate since 1992.

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