Throughout the summer we have highlighted the progress of General Motors’ efforts to recall potentially defective automobiles stemming from the discovery of defects in ignition switches. Essentially, an ignition key could potentially slip from the “run” position to the “stop” position based on the weight of the key ring. While this may not seem dangerous at first glance, it could shut the car down and disable a number of safety measures, including airbags, power steering and anti-lock braking systems.
GM previously admitted that a number of people had lost their lives in accidents stemming from the defect, and recognized the challenge of reaching second hand owners who purchased an affected vehicle. A recent New York Times report exemplified this issue, as well as the danger of not being able to reach car owners in time.
Despite the public outcry about the potential danger these vehicles pose, GM reportedly has fought attempts to take them off the road until they are repaired. This stance ostensibly proved fatal for a 27 year-old intern for a federal judge, who perished in March after her 2006 Saturn crashed into a tractor-trailer after losing control of the car when the ignition key suddenly came out of position.
Authorities initially blamed an icy road for the crash, but further investigations led to the ignition switch issue. The woman’s father reportedly received a letter informing her of the recall three days before the crash occurred.
General Motors has reached out to the woman’s family to offer a settlement. It remains to be seen how the recalls will be performed, but it is further evidence of the automaker’s potential liability.