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A recent issue with GM vehicles being recalled due to a faulty ignition switch is putting the auto industry on notice when it comes to safety issues. Even the federal regulatory body that handles auto recalls, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is under the microscope for how they dealt with the GM ignition issue, which affected over 3 million vehicles and caused 19 deaths.
The faulty ignition switches were cutting power on the vehicles while they were running, effectively disabling many key performance and safety features including airbags. The safety issue was even more pronounced when keys in the ignition were weighted down by additional items like other keys or heavy key chains.
Click here to find out the make, model and year of vehicles affected by the GM ignition switch recall.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Reaction & Criticism
After initial reports of the ignition switch issue, the NHTSA came down hard on GM and congress, in turn, was critical of the NHTSA. The deputy administrator for the NHTSA, David Friedman, had this to say about GM in response to their handling of the defective part: “They were more worried about us getting information about problems than they were about actually fixing problems.”
Though the NHTSA was very critical of GM for putting profits ahead of safety, they also faced some criticism of their own. A House committee determined that the NHTSA had the information, authority, and resources to act more quickly in alerting consumers and instituting the recall. In the 45-page document, the committee found that the NHTSA had ample evidence of the ignition switch issues based on a report that they commissioned, but did not identify the issue or investigate it thoroughly enough.
GM CEO, Mary Barra, had this to say regarding the defect which also caused several nonfatal crashes: “We simply didn’t do our job. We failed these customers, and we must face up to it, and we must learn from it.” As a result of the recall and its handling, the company said it has disciplined employees and relieved several high-level executives from their positions. In order to compensate the families of those affected by the faulty part, GM has set up a fund and will accept claims through the end of 2014.
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Resources For Further Reading
General Motors Recalls – From CNN.com, a comprehensive listing of the most recent recalls from GM, including the ignition switch recall, which affected more than 3 million cars.
NHTSA Recall Information – Find the latest information for auto recalls and defects issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. You can also sign up to receive e-mail alerts and notifications regarding car safety issues.