General Motors recently issued a historic recall of 2.6 million vehicles
due to faulty ignition switches that reportedly played a role in 13 deaths.
The car company is now facing multiple investigations into the
defective automotive products, including one that involves the state of Florida.
Reuters reports, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi recently joined a group of
state attorneys general examining the auto giant. For now, Bondi's
office is remaining mostly mum about the investigation, the report indicates.
The AGs are not the only ones prying into problems that led to the GM recall.
The automaker is also under investigation by the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration (NHTSA), U.S. Justice Department, Securities and
Exchange Commission and the House of Representatives.
These investigations may reach different outcomes. The Justice Department,
for example, is looking at potential criminal charges. Other investigations
are looking at how legislation or policies could prevent these tragedies.
However, the investigations do share one common concern: Whether GM ignored
problems with its ignition switches for years and only took action after
innocent lives were lost and billions were put in harm's way.
Reports: Faulty Ignition Switches First Came to Light in 2001
The massive GM recall began in February with just 778,000 compact cars.
In the following weeks, the recall doubled and then tripled in size, eventually
including 2.6 million vehicles. However, reports suggest that GM knew
about defective ignition switches many years ago.
According to the
Consumerist, no action was taken when a problem was noted in 2001. In 2005, the issue
came back up. Again, no action was taken.
In 2006, test drivers noted the ignition problem, and GM combined old and
new parts to try and create a "fix," according to reports. However,
the part was used under the same item number as the old, defective part,
which only led to confusion.
NHTSA Faces Scrutiny Related to GM Ignition Switches
General Motors was not the only one aware of the risks, according to reports.
In 2007, an accident report from the NHTSA noted the issue. The agency
proposed opening an investigation but decided against it.
The same thing happened in 2010, after several deaths involving motorists
who drove cars with the ignition switches at issue.
GM has admitted the ignition switches are tied to 13 deaths. One review
suggests the actual number could be much higher. The
Center for Auto Safety analyzed crash deaths in Saturn Ions and Chevy Cobalts from 2003 to 2012,
looking specifically at those crashes attributed to "airbag failure,"
which could have been related to the faulty ignition switches. The Center
found 303 cases.
Answers Will Come
With so many investigations ongoing, it will likely be a while before we
get the full story on what went wrong and how it will be made right. For many
auto accident victims in Florida and across the country and the families of those who
may have died due to the ignition failure, the answers will not come soon enough.