Dem senators launch petition against GM

A pair of Democratic senators have launched a petition calling for General Motors to pull its recalled cars off of the road completely.

GM has come under fire for recalling 1.6 million of its older models because of a problem with their ignition switches that have been found to cause cars to abruptly shut off or have their airbags disabled. The ignition problems have been linked to car accidents that have resulted in more than 10 deaths.

The company announced on the eve of a pair of contentious hearings this week that it was also recalling another 1.3 million cars because of a power steering problem.

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Lawmakers in both parties sharply criticism the company this, accusing GM of purposely delaying recalling the faulty vehicles to avoid paying for repairs.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said in a video announcing their petition that company should take the cars off of the road completely.

“At least 12 Americans have died and 31 have been injured in accidents linked to faulty ignition switches in GM cars,” Blumenthal said. “Sen. Markey and I are here today to urge you, General Motors, to address the unconscionable acts of your company in failing to disclose serious defects in many of your cars. Innocent lives were lost.”

GM and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) have issued a recall for the Detroit-based automaker’s cars that were made with the faulty ignition switches. The cars are mostly smaller cars that GM has stopped making since it reorganized after receiving a $50 billion federal bailout in 2008 and 2009 like the Chevrolet Cobalt or the Saturn Ion.

The GM recall covers cars that were made in all of the models from 2004 to 2010, but the company has been heavily criticism because the warning was not issued until February.

GM has recommended that drivers avoid using key chains with heavy objects until they get their cars repaired to avoid triggering the problems with the faulty ignition switches.

Sen. Markey said it was not enough for GM to tell drivers to get their cars fixed whenever they can, however. 

“There are Americans right now driving defective cars down highways at great speeds whose lives are at risk, and they are unaware of the risk they are taking,” Markey said. “Sen. Blumenthal and I have introduced legislation that will improve vehicle safety and increase reporting and transparency so that the public knows sooner about possible deadly defects.”

GM CEO Mary Barra told Congress in her testimony this week that the company was “deeply sorry” for failing to issue the recalls sooner. She said the company would do everything in its power to fix the problems with its older cars now. 

“Today's GM will do the right thing. That begins with my sincere apologies to everyone who has been affected by this recall, especially the families and friends who lost their lives or were injured. I am deeply sorry," Barra said.

Blumenthal said Thursday that GM’s apologies were far from enough, however.

“The language of your recall notices came too late and simply fails to convey the reality of these defects,” the Connecticut senator said. “To you, we say issue a stronger warning to drivers of recalled vehicles. Inform them of the real risks they are facing. Tell them the truth that these cars shouldn’t be on the road and make a pledge that you compensate past victims and families for their deaths, injuries and damage.”