Senators: Keep GM’s recalled cars off the roads

WASHINGTON — General Motors has recalled 2.6 million vehicles due to a potentially deadly ignition switch defect, but so far the vehicles haven’t been repaired.

Now, two United States senators are calling on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue an order that will keep the cars from leaving the driveway.

Senators Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) in a letter to Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx at the Department of Transportation (DOT which overseas NHTSA) to encourage the agency to send letters to owners, telling them not to use their cars until they are fixed.

“Every day that unrepaired vehicles remain on the road increases the risk of more injuries, deaths, and damage,” the senators said in the letter.

They also want the NHTSA to require GM to send a more “strongly worded” warning to car owners.

The recall stems from a defect where the key in the ignition can move into the “accessory position” when the car is running, causing it to stall, or during a crash, preventing air bags from deploying. The recall includes the Chevy Cobalt, HHR, Pontiac G5, Solstice, Saturn Ion and the Sky.

Laura Christian, who lost her daughter in a 2005 crash linked to the issue hopes the NHTSA will make the right decision.

“NHTSA, this is your opportunity, your opportunity to lose. Sit up, take notice, conduct these investigations promptly and most certainly weigh-in on the ‘do not drive’ warnings for the recalled GM vehicles,” Christian said.

On a website created by GM for the recall, owners are urged to remove everything from their key ring, except the car key, until repairs can be made. But some owners have reported that the key alone is enough to create problems and in some instances stall the car.

Recently a federal judge decided that safety regulators would have to be the ones to keep the vehicles off the road.

Christian says during the case she reached out to the head of the NHTSA.

“I contacted David Friedman before the ‘park it order’ was declined by the judge and he refused to weigh-in.”

Christian says she is glad the senators have stepped in and hopes they will get farther than she did

“I am not convinced, but if NHTSA has enough people putting pressure on them to do this, it’s possible, I’m hopeful.”

Appalled that GM hasn’t voluntarily parked the recalled vehicles, she hopes the government acts and send a message to all car manufacturers that “doing business this way on a cost basis is not acceptable to any of us.”

In a statement, the Department of Transportation says it will respond to the senators directly and urged drivers to buckle-up and reiterated that only the key should be on the ring when operating the vehicle.

GM plans to have all the affected vehicles repaired, once parts come in, later this year.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up