As GM CEO Mary Barra attempts to explain to a Senate subcommittee why the company failed to issue a GM recall for millions of defective vehicles even though it was aware of an ignition issue clear back in 2001, the families of those who died because of the faulty ignition switch continue to press for answers.
What has become horribly apparent though is that most of the people killed in crashes were young. An article by Associated Press Auto Writer Tom Krisher, explains that the faulty ignition switch would cut power to the motor while the vehicle is running, and effectively eliminating power steering and power brakes. To a young or inexperienced driver, the abrupt loss of these two features alone would make it extremely difficult for the driver to maintain control of the car. The air bags in these cars also failed to deploy. Krisher also writes that the vehicles involved in the faulty ignition switch recall were lower priced compact cars like the Chevy Cobalt were marketed to parents buying cars for their children and young first-time car buyers. (http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/gm-recall-victims-young-drivers-23136239?singlePage=true)
AT least 13 deaths have been linked to the faulty ignition switch along with 31 crashes. According to USA Today, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass) the cost to repair the problem is minimal. “Two dollars. That’s how little this ignition switch could have cost to repair. Two dollars that could have saved priceless live. That was apparently $2 too much for General Motors.” GM recently expanded its recall to 2.6 million Ions, Cobalts and other compact cars, a move that Markey calls “a decade late and dozens of lives and injuries short.” (http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2014/04/01/families-gm-deaths/7152985/)
As Investigators Continue Their GM Recall Probe, More Questions Become Apparent
Barra has not been able to provide many answers to the government or the families of the victims as to why the company failed to note red flags regarding the faulty ignition and airbag deployment issues clear back in 2001. Sen. During the Subcommittee hearing, Richard Blumenthal, (D-Conn) said that the more he sees in the documentation surrounding the faulty switch, “the more convinced I am that GM has a real exposure to criminal liability.”
In fact, David Friedman, who is the acting chief of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) told the panel that the air bags of these cars should have deployed even after the motor shut off. “To be honest, that doesn’t make sense to me. Power loss in a vehicle is not uncommon. There are capacitors build into those airbag systems, to ensure that they” still deploy when the power is cut by a faulty ignition switch. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2014/04/02/barra-gm-recall-senate/7195135/)
For those who lost loved ones because of the faulty ignition switch, the GM recall comes far too late, and not without its own price. Renne Trautwein, whose daughter was killed in 2009 while driving a 2005 Chevy Cobalt, told USA Today, “Since we found out about the recall, we are all in a whole new mourning process.”