A Democratic senator is asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) why it made a decision not to open an investigation into an allegedly defective steering sensor on thousands of General Motors vehicles. According to a report by The Detroit News, Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut sent a letter to the federal regulatory agency urging them to further investigate the sensors and control systems.
What Led to a NHTSA Review?
Last week, Reuters reported that NHTSA would not be opening a formal investigation on the sensor systems after reviewing information in a lawsuit that was filed by the widower of a woman who died in a crash allegedly caused by a faulty sensor. A NHTSA spokesperson told The Detroit News that members of its Office of Defects Investigations “used their objective approach in reviewing all available data for severity of outcome and verified frequency of occurrence” and determined that no additional investigation was necessary.
Blumenthal wrote NHTSA “inexcusably failed to open an investigation or warn the public.” He says he would like to see all the information about the defective safety feature and why NHTSA did not open an investigation into the matter. NHTSA said it received the senator’s letter and will address his questions and concerns.
GM has not recalled the vehicles with his sensor, but it has had warranty claims associated with it, as Reuters reported. About 777,000 vehicles had these sensors including the 2006-2009 Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy and Saab 9-7X; 2006-07 Buick Rainier and the 2006-08 Isuzu Ascender. GM said they investigated these incidents “thoroughly” and that they have found no accidents related to this issue.
However, the lawsuit against GM filed by a man alleges that his 42-year-old wife died after her 2007 Chevy Trailblazer crashed as the result of a defective steering sensor that the automaker failed to adequately warn drivers bout in spite of long knowing that the component had issues.
The Need for an Investigation
Our auto defect lawyers are pleased that Senator Blumenthal took this important step to write a letter to NHTSA demanding to see the details of their review and how they arrived at the determination that an investigation or recall would not be necessary. Auto safety issues raise serious concerns. They have the potential to turn our lives upside down. Therefore, when there are complaints or concerns about vehicle safety, a diligent review should be absolutely the bare minimum response.