As replacement parts begin to arrive at dealers to remedy General Motors’ ignition recall, two U.S. senators have called for the Department of Transportation to issue a warning to owners of recalled cars to stop driving them until they are repaired. According to Reuters, Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut both serve on the Senate committee investigating GM, and sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
Though GM has alleged throughout this recall process that the cars are safe to drive if owners remove the ignition key from heavy keychains, Markey and Blumenthal say that the unrepaired vehicles present a safety risk to owners and should not be driven. “Every day that unrepaired vehicles remain on the road increases the risk of more injuries, deaths, and damage,” said the senators in their letter to Foxx.
Federal courts have previously rejected calls to issue a “do not drive” warning for owners of recalled cars, and GM has repeatedly expressed that it is not necessary to keep affected cars off the road while owners wait for repairs. Markey and Blumenthal do not cite any reasons for why the cars should be parked in their letter, other than a mention of a New York Times report stating that there have been instances of the recalled vehicles stalling even without extra weight of a keychain.
In an emailed statement today, GM said it is not commenting on the Senators' statements, but did reiterate that owners should remove all items from the key ring, leaving the vehicle key separate. The company says it has conducted 80 individual tests of ignition switches to demonstrate that the cars can be driven safely if owners follow these precautions.
GM announced last week that replacement parts began shipping to dealers. Of the 2.2 million recalled vehicles, owners of 1.4 million 2003-2007 models have been notified to make dealer appointments for repairs. Later in May, 2008-2011 model-year owners will be notified to have their cars repaired as well, and the whole process of repairs is not expected to be completed by the fall. In the meantime, GM has offered loaner cars to affected owners who do not feel safe driving their cars.
Stay tuned for more news about the Department of Transportation’s response to the two senators’ request.