NHTSA will not tell GM drivers to ground recalled cars

Article by Andrew Christian, on May 9, 2014

The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has declined a request from Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., to advise owners of cars covered by General Motors’ faulty ignition switch recall to stop driving their units until they are repaired.

GM issued a recall of 2.6 million cars in February over the faulty ignition switch that has been tied dozens of crashes and at least 13 deaths. The letter from the US senators was dated April 28, 2014. In response, NHTSA said that such move “is not necessary at this time.”

The safety regulator remarked that it reviewed tests in which GM simulated potholes, panic stops and angled railroad crossings – has concurred with the carmaker’s advice to drive with the ignition key on its own.

NHTSA said in a letter May 6, 2014 that based on its engineering expertise, consideration of the nature of the ignition switch defect, and the testing conducted, the agency satisfied that for now, the risk posed by the defect is “sufficiently mitigated” by GM’s suggested action.

The rejection drew disappointments from the senators, saying that they were extremely concerned that GM and NHTSA are not doing enough to “convey the seriousness” of faulty switches to owners of affected cars. They said that GM and NHTSA are unnecessarily putting more lives at risk.

NHTSA is still probing why GM had to wait a decade before issuing the recall despite knowing of early signs of defects with the ignition switch. The recall and its handling have prompted several probes at the US House and Senate. GM has offered free loaner cars to affected owners, with 36,000 customers already availing of the offer.

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