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GM’s Massive Recall on Ignition Switches Triggers Federal Criminal Probe

In response to criticism stemming from a failure to properly investigate complaints of ignition switch failures in many of their models, General Motors has hired a private investigator to determine if the company failed to adequately respond to the dangerous condition. The New York Times reported that over the last 11 years, GM has received more than 260 complaints of cars spontaneously shutting down while drivers were on highways, in city traffic, and even on railroad tracks. These engine ignition malfunctions have been linked to 13 deaths, 1,581 injuries, and have led to over 1.6 million vehicle recalls.In the meantime, the CBS Evening News is reporting that federal authorities have opened a criminal investigation of GM, most likely in regards to a federal law requiring car manufacturers “to give the Federal government timely notice of defects.” A grave question also surrounds the issue of when GM knew of this defect and many media outlets have been reporting that it was years before the company issued the recall.Further, the New York Times learned in an interview with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that since 2003, they have received roughly two complaints per month involving GM vehicles shutting off while in motion. The NHTSA told the New York Times that these complaints seemed to be isolated incidents, and therefore they never saw a need to launch a full investigation. The NHTSA had previously been criticized for failing to investigate a trend of rollovers in Ford Explorers with Firestone tires, an oversight that reportedly led to approximately 271 deaths.Victims of these ignition malfunctions told the New York Times that there is no warning when the GM vehicles are about to shut off. GM responded to these complaints by instructing car drivers to decrease the number of keys they have on their key chains, suggesting that the increased weight of the key chain can jostle the ignition switch to the off position. Fred Upton, the chairman of the US House Energy Committee, announced that he would be launching an investigation into the responses of GM and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to the numerous complaints they received, according to the New York Times.If you think your car may be affected, this link may be used to go to Time Magazine’s article on “10 Things You Need to Know About the Massive GM Recall.”

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