Dem senators want GM cars off the road

 

Two Democratic senators on Monday asked the Obama administration to pull recalled General Motors vehicles off the roadways.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) should issue a "park it now" order to drivers of the recalled vehicles.

The lawmakers said GM's warnings about the recalled cars, which have a dangerous ignition switch flaw, have not properly warned drivers about the dangers they could be facing behind the wheel.

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"We write to urge you to advise owners of all GM vehicles due to faulty ignition switches to cease driving them until they are repaired and to further call on GM to issue similar strongly warnings. A failure to do so could result in additional accidents, injuries and deaths," the senators wrote in a letter to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

The recall that was issued by GM in February covered 1.6 million models that were made between 2004 and 2010. The recall warned drivers that they should remove heavy objects from their keys because the vehicles' ignition switches are known to abruptly shut off under heavy weight.

GM has been accused of purposely delaying the recall, for as long as a decade in some cases, to avoid paying for repairs.

Blumenthal and Markey, who have been vocally critical of GM's handling of the recalls, said they had issues with more than just the timing of the warnings being issued.

"Currently, the recall notices that GM has issued in no way convey the serious safety risk these vehicles pose to drivers, passengers and other motorists on the road," the senators wrote. "In its recall notices, GM advised consumers to merely ensure that they 'remove all items from their key rings, leaving only the vehicle key,' until repairs are made."

Blumenthal and Markey said the highway safety agency should step in to force GM to issue a stronger warning because repairing all the recalled vehicles will likely take time.

"GM has indicated that it could take until October 2014 before it can complete all the needed repairs," the lawmakers wrote. "Every day that unrepaired vehicles remain on the road increases the risk of more injuries, death and damage."

A federal judge previously declined to issue a widespread order to pull GM's cars off the road, saying that GM's handling of the recalls should be overseen by the highway safety agency. 

Blumenthal and Markey said the NHTSA should take the court ruling as a cue to step in.

"We believe you — as the federal regulator referred to by the court — have a unique opportunity to protect public safety by taking stronger action to issue warnings of these dangers," they said. "We urge you to do everything in your power to get these defective vehicles off the road."