Proposed Bill Requires More Transparency from Automakers after GM Recall

Mar 26, 2014 02:45 PM EDT | Jordan Ecarma

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Two senators have proposed legislation related to the 1.6-million vehicle General Motors recall that could change how crash information is handled for the entire auto industry.

On Tuesday, Sens. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., proposed a bill that would require more transparency among automakers, making them provide information about deadly crashes to regulators, the Detroit Free Press reported.  

The proposal would also affect the United States government, which would in turn be required to make the information easily accessible by the public.

The new legislation stems from the controversy surrounding GM's recent recall of 1.6 million vehicles after faulty ignition switches were related to at least 12 deaths and 31 crashes.

"A massive information breakdown at [the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] has led to deadly vehicle breakdowns on our roads," said Markey, as quoted by the Detroit Free Press.

The senators are seeking reform for the country's Early Warning Reporting System, saying that automakers should be required to provide accident reports when fatalities occur in their cars, instead of just giving a summary. They are also calling for more documents to be provided to the public in "a searchable, user-friendly format."

GM first reported problems with engine ignition switches in 2001, and the company has heard "hundreds of complaints" from owners over the years. Some say both the automaker and the NHTSA are at fault for not responding to the issue sooner.

The problematic ignition switches could turn off the vehicle's engine and disable its airbags even while the car is in motion.

The recall affects the 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 compact cars; 2003-2007 Saturn Ion compact cars; 2006-2007 Chevy HHR midsized cars; and 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky sports cars.

GM is under investigation from the Justice Department regarding the timeliness of the carmaker's response to the ignition switch issue. Recently installed CEO Mary Barra will testify at a hearing next week.

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