Scathing report says GM, regulators missed chance to correct faulty switch issue

Congressional investigators released a highly critical report on Sunday, targeting General Motors and government regulators on the delayed GM recalls.

The report from the House gives an inside look at what went on for more than 12 years, from the time GM found out about a problem with the ignition switch to the time it issued a recall. It says regulators had a chance to correct the issue and did not, CBS News' Jeff Glor reported.

House investigators say documents show GM engineers determined an ignition switch was not up to specification in 2002. The company went ahead anyway. They redesigned the switch in 2006, but never changed the part number, adding to the confusion.

The documents also say the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in charge of policing auto safety, noticed a trend in complaints in 2007, but never investigated further. It is not clear why. NHTSA looked again in 2010.

"I don't think that GM and NHTSA were talking to each other adequately, and it may be that the different departments at GM weren't talking to each other. We need to find out why," said Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., chairman of a House Subcommittee on Energy and Commerce.

With more than 900,000 vehicles added on Friday, the recalls at GM over the faulty switch in compact cars now includes 2.6 million vehicles.

The problem? That switch that can suddenly shut the engine off, disabling power steering, power brakes, the seat belts, and the airbags. At least 13 people have died in crashes linked to the defect.

"Why didn't they figure out that when they ignition switch was going to accessory, that the air bags didn't work, too? I think if they had done that sooner, you wonder if they would have made a recall sooner," Murphy said.

As families prepare to watch testimony on Capitol Hill Tuesday, many are still trying to figure out why it's taken this long.

Five years ago, 25-year-old Sadye Chansuthus died. Her car's safety equipment failed to deploy. Her family thinks the faulty switch is to blame.

David Chansuthus, Sadye's brother, said, "You hit a tree head on, you expect the seatbelt and airbag to function properly."

Both David Friedman, the acting head of NHTSA, and Mary Barra, the chief executive officer of GM, will testify before the House on Tuesday. The Senate takes up the matter on Wednesday

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