There is a defective products crisis in America today. There are defective products all around us and new ones are constantly entering the marketplace. This crisis is evident in many places with many different kinds of products. There are defective products in our homes, workplaces, hospitals, schools, medical clinics, and on the roads we drive.
For example, there are well over two million General Motors Cobalt motor vehicles with defective ignition switches on our roads today. This defect has already killed at least 13 people. Any one of these estimated 2.6 million motor vehicles could cause an accident today, exposing the driver and everyone nearby to a moving vehicle with no power brakes, power steering, or airbags. General Motors is slowly recalling them for repairs while refusing to issue a public safety “do not drive” or “park it now” recommendation to the motoring public. GM is trying to dodge liability in bankruptcy court, which is undoubtedly the first of many legal defenses it will eventually assert.
GM is not alone on the motor vehicle manufacturer most outrageous list; Toyota has for five years been immersed in its own scandal involving the “sudden unintended acceleration” alleged defect. This defect involves millions of automobiles that Toyota begrudgingly and belatedly recalled for repairs. Toyota has paid billions of dollars to settle a class action involving the defect and has settled criminal charges the U.S. Department of Justice filed against it. Toyota apparently still contends that hundreds of runaway-vehicle injuries linked to this phenomenon are caused by driver error or other issues unrelated to the cars’ electronic control systems.
There will likely be many years, trials, investigations, and congressional hearings before we really know what happened behind the scenes with either of these defective motor vehicle recalls, but what is clear to me is that delaying the formal recall of defective motor vehicles is outrageous. This isn’t simply a business deal gone bad between GM and the vehicle owner. This involves every one of us who might come in the path of one of these defective vehicles just as the ignition switch fails. GM should act responsibly and voluntarily use every social media tool available to immediately get all these vehicles off the road for repairs before they kill anyone else.
I am not the first one to suggest this. One judge has already refused to issue a “park it now” order, but just yesterday two senators on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee urged the U.S. Department of Transportation to warn vehicle owners to stop driving them immediately. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) are to be commended for making this recommendation. Let’s join them and urge our leaders throughout the country to urge GM to give the American public the strongest warning possible about the deathly risk of continuing to drive these defective vehicles. This is important – it’s a matter of life and death!