“Two Democratic U.S. senators on Monday called on the Department of Transportation to urge owners of 2.6 million recalled General Motors cars to stop driving them until they are repaired, which could take months as dealerships wait for replacement ignition switches,” Reuters reported Monday.
The defective ignition switches shut down important electrical components without warning, turning off power steering, resulting in braking malfunctions, and disabling airbags. Earlier this month, GM CEO Mary Barra advised that the recalled vehicles were perfectly safe to drive — as long as drivers removed any extras keys and weight from their key ring. “I would allow my son and daughter… well my son, as he’s the only one eligible to drive. As long as he only had the ignition key,” Barra replied, when asked if she would let her daughters drive the recalled models.
Now, experts are saying that driving the recalled vehicles, under any circumstances, is highly dangerous. The faulty switches have been linked to at least 13 deaths so far. “Every day that unrepaired vehicles remain on the road increases the risk of more injuries, deaths and damage,” one senator said.
“The Detroit automaker, which has known about the troubled ignition switches for more than a decade before ordering recalls earlier this year, maintains the cars are safe to operate as long as there are no added keys or fobs hanging from the ignition switch key,” Reuters continues. “However, the company also acknowledges increased risk of ignition switch malfunctions when traveling on rough roads.”
A court overruled a park-it-now motion earlier this month on April 17. Automakers have never been legally mandated to ask drivers to stop using particular models altogether. GM currently estimates that all necessary repairs will not be complete until October 2014.