Markey, Blumenthal Statement on NHTSA’s “Path Forward”

The Center for Auto Safety is the nation’s premier independent, member driven, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy on behalf of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.


Contact: Giselle Barry (Markey) 202-224-2742

Josh Zembik (Blumenthal) 202-224-6452

Markey, Blumenthal Statement on NHTSA’s “Path Forward”

In wake of GM recall, Senators introduced legislation to increase transparency and earlier reporting of auto defects

Washington (June 5, 2015) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, released the following joint statement after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today made public reports and initiatives that address failings in its GM ignition switch investigation and other safety efforts. Senators Markey and Blumenthal have been leading the Senate investigation into the GM ignition switch recall that has been linked to at least 100 deaths.  GM has admitted to knowing for at least a decade about the ignition switch defect in Chevy Cobalts and Saturn Ions that led to the massive recall, and NHTSA failed to connect the dots using accident reports and other information it had to more quickly and aggressively investigate the defect.

“We are pleased that NHTSA has acknowledged neglecting critical information that should have moved it to take action much earlier on faulty GM ignition switches that were killing drivers and passengers for years. Unfortunately, for more than a decade, NHTSA failed to address the information and evidence it had in its own database linking defective ignition switch to fatal accidents. It is incumbent upon Administrator Rosekind to put in place permanent measures necessary to prevent another tragedy like this from ever happening again.  Those measures must include a requirement that the types of secret documents that NHTSA had access to are made public, and the enactment of our legislation that requires more information to be reported to NHTSA’s Early Warning Reporting database when auto manufacturers first become aware of incidents involving fatalities.”

In one of the reports released today, NHTSA acknowledged that it had requested a Death Inquiry (DI) document from GM related to the death of two Wisconsin teenagers. That document, which was received by NHTSA in 2007 but kept secret by both GM and NHTSA, was first made public by Senator Markey on May 7, 2014. It included a report by the Wisconsin State Patrol Academy that highlighted the ignition switch defect as preventing the airbags from deploying. The report also references other reports of similar problems that the Wisconsin investigators uncovered and noted that these investigators had obtained the 2005 GM Technical Service Bulletin that described the ignition switch problem to GM dealers.

Last year, GM CEO Mary T. Barra expressed her support for components of legislation introduced by Senators Markey and Blumenthal that would ensure more transparency and earlier reporting of safety issues to prevent auto injuries and fatalities. The legislation, the Early Warning Reporting System Improvement Act, would require NHTSA make the information it receives from auto manufacturers publicly available in a searchable, user-friendly format so that consumers and independent safety experts can evaluate potential safety defects themselves.