US: Senate hearing mulls vehicle safety law changes in GM crisis aftermath image

General Motors executives, headed by CEO Mary Barra, have already been through Senate subcommittee hearings on the way the company mishandled a life threatening recall involving 2.6 million cars equipped with defective ignition switches.

As we all know, the particular recall was linked so far (by the company, outside sources claim triple digits when it comes to fatalities) to at least 13 deaths and led to a huge slew of recalls for the No. 1 US automaker.

Now, one of the Senate subcommittees that already held two hearings on the GM debacle will have another one next Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. The subcommittee for consumer protection, chaired by US Senator Claire McCaskill, will now discuss the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s involvement in the crisis – many detractors said that the safety regulator was unable/unwilling to act faster on signs about the defective ignition switch.

More importantly, the Senators could discuss how to better enforce and implement the highway and vehicle safety laws; and also talk about possible improvements. The US lawmakers are currently discussing whether the regulator should be granted additional powers to better react and discover potential safety flaws – among the measures also being mulled the lift of today’s $35-million threshold on penalties against the carmakers.