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General Motors Accused of Deadly Car Crashes
The biggest American automaker, General Motors, and a U.S. government safety chief are facing new questions about why it took them a decade to deal with an ignition switch defect that led to at least 13 deaths in car crashes.

GM chief executive Mary Barra and the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, David Friedman, were set to testify before a congressional committee Tuesday. The panel is investigating several GM models from 2005 to 2010 in which faulty ignition systems shut down while cars were being driven, disabling the vehicles' electrical systems and preventing airbags from inflating in crashes.

In prepared testimony released in advance, Barra said, "I cannot tell you why it took years for a safety defect to be announced." But she vowed the company would find out and be "fully transparent" with the information. GM's own data on the defect provided to the government shows that it knew of the problem as early as 2001.

In his statement, Friedman said GM had information about the faulty ignition switches but did not disclose it to the government until last month. Drivers, however, had complained to the agency about the ignition problems as early as 2005 and it had information about a fatal accident. Government investigators decided a trend was not evident.

GM, the second biggest automaker in the world behind Japan's Toyota Motor, has now recalled 2.6 million vehicles in connection with the faulty ignition switches, and another 3.7 million vehicles since February that are linked to other safety issues.

Relatives of the victims killed in crashes held up pictures of their loved ones at a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol. They condemned GM and the government for ignoring complaints about the faulty ignition switches.

One victim's mother, Laura Christian, said GM put profits ahead of safety.

"Corporate executives made a decision that fighting a problem was cheaper and easier than fixing a problem," said Christian.
The biggest American automaker, General Motors, and a U.S. government safety chief are facing new questions about why it took them a decade to deal with an ignition switch defect that led to at least 13 deaths in car crashes.

GM chief executive Mary Barra and the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, David Friedman, were set to testify before a congressional committee Tuesday. The panel is investigating several GM models from 2005 to 2010 in which faulty ignition systems shut down while cars were being driven, disabling the vehicles' electrical systems and preventing airbags from inflating in crashes.

In prepared testimony released in advance, Barra said, "I cannot tell you why it took years for a safety defect to be announced." But she vowed the company would find out and be "fully transparent" with the information. GM's own data on the defect provided to the government shows that it knew of the problem as early as 2001.

In his statement, Friedman said GM had information about the faulty ignition switches but did not disclose it to the government until last month. Drivers, however, had complained to the agency about the ignition problems as early as 2005 and it had information about a fatal accident. Government investigators decided a trend was not evident.

GM, the second biggest automaker in the world behind Japan's Toyota Motor, has now recalled 2.6 million vehicles in connection with the faulty ignition switches, and another 3.7 million vehicles since February that are linked to other safety issues.

Relatives of the victims killed in crashes held up pictures of their loved ones at a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol. They condemned GM and the government for ignoring complaints about the faulty ignition switches.

One victim's mother, Laura Christian, said GM put profits ahead of safety.

"Corporate executives made a decision that fighting a problem was cheaper and easier than fixing a problem," said Christian.