Federal Safety Board Ignored Ignition-Switch Warning

WASHINGTON (Detroit Free Press/MCT ) -

A House committee Tuesday morning released a report highly critical of federal regulators for their role in not catching an ignition-switch defect in General Motors cars that killed at least 19 people, saying they had all the information and authority they needed to react more swiftly.

Noting that GM deserved much of the blame for not addressing the defect earlier, the staff report by the House Energy and Commerce Committee took the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to task for ignoring information — in some cases in reports it commissioned itself — that potentially identified the deadly defect.

“The agency’s repeated failure to identify, let alone explore, the potential defect theory related to the ignition switch — even after it was spelled out in a report the agency commissioned — is inexcusable,” the 45-page House report said.

“This was compounded by NHTSA staff’s lack of knowledge and awareness regarding the evolution of vehicle safety systems they regulate.”

NHTSA didn’t immediately respond to the report.