It may be too little too late. But in the wake of GM’s recent recall of cars due to ignition problems, after reportedly being aware of the problems for about a decade, the U.S. Senate is considering a bill that would make information available to the public when automobile manufacturers learn of possible defects in their products.
Between the time that GM first started receiving reports of the problem and when the product was finally recalled in February, at least 12 people are believed to have died as a result of the defective auto part. Many more suffered serious injuries.
The bill requires manufacturers to disclose early warnings of possible defects to the public. While GM says that it disclosed all of the information to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the senators who introduced the bill question the efficiency of the agency in disseminating the information in a timely manner. The bill suggests a user-friendly database in a searchable format that is available to the public.
One of the senators notes that NHTSA already has the authority to make such information available but it has never done so. Because of this, he believes that the NHTSA “failed to connect the dots” to discover the pattern of problems reported on the vehicles, which could have possibly prevented some of the fatal accidents. The senators emphasized that the job of NHTSA is to make information available that would save lives.
While representatives of automotive industry groups are not yet sold on the idea that systemic problems with NHTSA are contributing to problems with investigations, they vow to review the bill. All of this activity is taking place the week before the CEO of GM is set to testify in a government hearing on the recall.
However the problems are resolved, the fact remains that people have been injured and killed as a result of the lack of disclosure of the problem by the responsible parties. Lawsuits are being filed across the country to recover compensation for the loss of loved ones. Perhaps the investigation into this debacle will help prevent further such tragedies on roads in Illinois and throughout the country.
Source: NBCMontana.com, “Bill would make “early warning” auto data public: Proposed legislation inspired by 10-year delay in GM recall,” Chris Isidore, March 25, 2014