GM gets $35 million fine over ignition recall handling image

Officials from the Department of Transportation and the NHTSA are sending a message to the automakers – the disastrous ignition switch recall will not have a future repeat.

After disclosing the No.1 US automaker broke the law by not upholding its public safety duties and that employees of the company knew years ago about the serious problem surrounding the defective ignition switches, the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced GM was fined the maximum allowed – $35 million. Also, the Obama administration revealed recently that it aims to seriously increase the maximum fine the NHTSA can impose to an automaker.

“We know no one is perfect. But we cannot tolerate, what we will not accept, is that a person or a company who knows danger exists and says nothing. Literally, silence can kill,” said US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx. “The fact remains that GM did not act, and did not alert us in a timely manner. What GM did was break the law. They failed to meet their public safety obligations.”

“We have learned a great deal from this recall. We will now focus on the goal of becoming an industry leader in safety,” said GM CEO Mary Barra in a statement. “We will emerge from this situation a stronger company.”

David Friedman, NHTSA’s acting administrator, also pointed out that if General Motors provided his agency with information sooner than late February, some of the injuries or deaths could have been avoided. The US carmaker seems now to have taken the lesson by hard, as its four months recall tally so far has gone up to 11.5 million cars, which is actually more than all of the industry’s total for last year.