US: House committee report criticizes the NHTSA on GM ignition switch mishap image

Just a few hours ahead of a new Senate panel hearing that would see NHTSA acting administrator David Friedman appear to answer questions about the agency’s behavior in regard to GM’s recall, a highly critical report surfaces.

This morning, the House committee report was crucially critical of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s role in failing to see signs about a critical safety flaw in 2.6 million cars recalled at least a decade too late by General Motors.

“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.”

The staff report by the House Energy and Commerce Committee report puts much of the blame on GM for not reporting earlier the life-threatening flaw, but also pointed out the federal regulator’s blame for not seeing the defect even as it commissioned its own reports on the root causes of the accidents.

Later on today, federal officials, including NHTSA’s Friedman, will appear before a Senate Consumer Protection Subcommittee to discuss the implications of GM’s decisions and to see whether the safety enforcers need more data collection and enforcement powers to act faster in the future.