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GM Ignition Failure the Fault of More Than Just GM

As with any massive product causing injuries, there are multiple breakdowns in surveillance and communication. The GM ignition fiasco is one such example.The U.S. agency NHSTA that tracks vehicle safety defects didn’t recognize a pattern of air bag failures in General Motors Co. (GM) cars that would later be linked to flawed ignition switch design, congressional investigators concluded. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration failed to act on multiple police reports dating back to 2007 that inquired about a link between faulty ignition switches, which led cars to stall, and air bags that didn’t deploy, according to a report by a House Energy and Commerce Committee panel. The agency instead relied on a “generalized trend analysis” to justify a decision not to investigate further, the report said. After four congressional hearings that primarily focused on GM and Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra, the new report and a Senate hearing today shifts the spotlight to NHTSA and why it wasn’t able to detect a pattern in a series of crashes that claimed at least 19 lives. “NHTSA exists not just to process what the company finds, but to dig deeper, and they failed,” Representative Fred Upton, the Michigan Republican who is chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a statement. “We know for sure that NHTSA was part of the problem and is going to have to be part of the solution.”

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