WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) today released the following statement in response to the New York Times exposé on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) repeated delays in investigating and recalling defective cars, and to the progress report released by Kenneth Feinberg on claims allowed by the General Motors (GM) compensation fund:
“The New York Times investigative piece emphasizes how systemic and deep-seated NHTSA’s failings have become – and how urgently the agency needs comprehensive reform. NHTSA apparently has earned five flameout stars for failure. Its failure to protect against defective cars has likely led to entirely preventable injuries and deaths. This supposed watchdog agency has shown neither bark nor bite. NHTSA has left consumers at the mercy of auto manufacturers more focused on protecting their bottom line than ensuring that their cars are safe. NHTSA’s ratings system – an apparent service to the auto industry – has given consumers a false sense of security. I look forward to questioning Acting NHTSA Administrator David Friedman when he appears before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection tomorrow – and seeking some real answers as to why the agency repeatedly failed to open necessary investigations.
“The interim report released today by Kenneth Feinberg confirms, tragically, my repeated warnings that the number of deaths caused by GM’s concealed ignition defects is likely to be far higher than the 13 that the company acknowledged. This news only emphasizes the severity of the company’s safety lapses and the continuing urgency of rapid repairs to these defective vehicles, many of which remain on the road. I reiterate my call on GM to issue clear guidance instructing customers to ground these cars until they can be fixed – and to make good on CEO Mary Barra’s promise to have sufficient repair parts available by October.”