The complaints go back 10 years -- drivers reporting that their GM vehicles simply switched off while on the road -- turning off power brakes, power steering, and even the airbags. There may be as many as 13 deaths and 31 crashes related to the ignition failures. General Motors issued the recall last month. Now, the committee will examine if the recall could have come sooner, and if steps were missed.
"Did the company or regulators miss something that could have flagged these problems sooner?" asked committee chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) in a statement. "If the answer is yes, we must learn how and why this happened."
In 2000, Upton sponsored a bill to address transportation recall delays, following the Firestone-Ford tire recall. Called the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act, or TREAD, it was meant to improve communication between the federal government and automakers.
"(We must) determine whether this system of reporting and analyzing complaints that Congress created to save lives is being implemented and working as the law intended," Upton said.
The committee will call on both General Motors and the National Highway Transportation Safety Association for more information, and will hold a hearing in the coming weeks.