Democratic Senators Edward Markey (MA) and Richard Blumenthal (CT) urged the Department of Transportation to take action to ensure that owners of the estimated 2.6 million recalled GM models to cease driving them until they are repaired, according to Reuters. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, who has been investigating the failure of GM to take action to combat the defects, has authority to pursue recalls of vehicles deemed as unsafe, but they cannot force GM to demand their owners to stop driving, according to The Detroit News.
The U.S. Senators concern stems from an indication from GM that it may take until October of this year to complete all the necessary repairs, opening the possibility that more injuries or deaths could follow from continued use, Reuters reported. Of particular concern are the vehicles’ faulty ignition switches that result in complete shut downs or malfunctions in power steering, power breaks and airbag deployment, which to date have been attributed to 13 deaths, according to The New York Times.
On April 17, a federal judge refused a request to force GM to order their customers to stop driving the recalled vehicles until the proper repairs could be made, according to Reuters. GM maintains that this notification is not necessary because the cars are safe to operate so long as there are no additional keys or fobs on their keychain, which jostle the ignition switch and may cause the vehicle to shut down, Reuters reported.
However, the company has acknowledged that there are significant risks involved in driving on rough roads and had also admitted that it has been aware of the possible defects for nearly a decade, according to Reuters.