U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said there’s no reason for General Motors Co. to pull cars affected by its ignition-switch recall off the road while waiting for new parts to be available.
Foxx said in a May 6 letter to lawmakers that he’s satisfied GM has limited safety risk by advising customers of precautions to take until their cars are repaired.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration examined the geometry and physics of the cars’ keys, ignition switches and steering columns, Foxx said. Regulators evaluated GM’s testing of cars driven with a single ignition key under different road conditions and believe they’re safe, he said.
“NHTSA is satisfied that for now, until the permanent remedy is applied, the safety risk posed by the defect in affected vehicles is sufficiently mitigated,” Foxx said in the letter to Senators Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.
The two Democrats have been pushing the Transportation Department to order vehicle owners to stop driving their cars. A U.S. District Court judge in Corpus Christi, Texas, declined April 17 to issue a court order to park the cars, saying regulators were in a better position to say whether the move was needed.
“We remain extremely concerned that GM and NHTSA are not doing enough to convey the seriousness of this defect to owners of the affected cars, unnecessarily putting more lives at risk,” Markey and Blumenthal said in a joint statement today. “Secretary Foxx has raised more questions than he has answered.”
GM, the largest U.S. automaker, has recalled 2.59 million small cars with defective ignition switches that have been linked to at least 13 deaths.
Congress, federal regulators and the U.S. Justice Department are investigating why it took Detroit-based GM more than a decade to recall cars with switches that could slip out of the “on” position, shutting off the engine and disabling air bags.