LaHood: GM recall the result of corporate silence

WASHINGTON — General Motors is moving forward with its recall of faulty ignition switches. But amid numerous investigations and following days of congressional testimony, many are still wondering how GM could have kept the problem hidden for a decade.

“You have to have a car company that’s willing to report these things,” former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood tells WTOP. “There are pretty tough rules and regulations in place now, but people have to comply with them.”

LaHood has been accused of coming down harshly on Toyota when it dealt with unintended acceleration problems, while letting GM off the hook. He says even though the government had partnered with GM, career employees at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration were not pressured to drop any investigations into the automaker.

“The idea that NHTSA didn’t take [the ignition switch problems] seriously is not accurate,” he says.

“Had GM been forthright and indicated that they knew about these mechanical problems, perhaps they would have been addressed a lot earlier, and lives and injuries would have been saved.”

LaHood points to a recall involving another car company that got federal assistance, if not partial federal ownership, as evidence no special treatment was given.

“Chrysler was also bailed out. Did we turn a blind eye to a company that the federal government bailed out? Of course not.”

LaHood says he worked with Chrysler’s CEO on a recall for faulty fuel tanks.

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