With an uncertain death toll and motorists at risk, the furor over defective parts in General Motor cars continues.
In February, under pressure from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), General Motors (GM) finally recalled certain model vehicles for a defective ignition switch. The switch, installed in at least six GM model cars, can toggle into accessory mode with the brush of a knee, road bump or the weight of a keychain.
When the car switches into accessory mode, the power steering and braking ability is lost and airbags generally do not deploy. However, in some accidents, it might be possible that the car's jostling may cause the switch to toggle back allowing the air bag to go off.
In April, NHTSA fined GM $28,000 for failing to produce requested documents about the defective switch including fatality numbers, research and recall details.
Documents previously released by the company show GM had knowledge of the defective ignition switch since at least 2006 and possibly earlier. Recent disclosures from company emails and the testimony of GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra include:
- A GM engineer approved a redesign of the defective ignition part without approving release of a new part number. By concealing the replacement part, dealers and others were not alerted to the possibility of a defective part.
- GM has placed two engineers involved in the scandal on paid leave.
- The safety of motorists still driving cars with defective ignition switches is unknown. While GM has stated the cars are safe to drive if no keychain is used, it also acknowledges a road bump could move the car out of run mode.
For an automotive industry just exiting scandal caused by the concealment of defect information by Toyota Motors, the deepening crisis with GM shakes confidence in the safety of cars on American roads.
If you are injured or a loved one is killed in a car subject to the ignition switch recall by GM, talk to an experienced injury attorney in Jacksonville today.
Combs Greene Of Counsel attorney Mark Link, a wrongful death and personal injury lawyer practicing in Jacksonville, Florida as well as throughout all of Florida, Georgia and Alabama, also contributed to this blog post.