Heller Seeks Answers on NHTSA's GM Investigation

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., wrote to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration to determine if the agency properly conducted an audit of General Motors’ ignition switch problem. “Even with access to information directly from the manufacturer, the Office of Defects Investigation declined to move forward in both 2007 and 2010 on any vehicle recall recommendation,” Heller wrote to NHTSA acting administrator David J. Friedman. The problem has been linked to 12 deaths and 31 crashes and GM ultimately announced a recall in February, which grew to about 1.7 million cars. The company acknowledged that it first became aware of the issue in 2001. The Nevada Republican's letter came as Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., sent a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. requesting that the Department of Justice immediately intervene on behalf of those injured and killed and all who suffered damages as a result of faulty ignition switches in certain General Motors cars. Heller is the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee’s Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance Subcommittee. “Your agency has stated that this was because the agency was unable to identify trends in GM vehicles that were significant when compared to peer vehicles or the US passenger fleet or were indicative of potential problems,” the letter continued. “Yet, NHTSA received 260 complaints over 11 years that vehicles were suddenly turning off while being driven. “General Motors has now issued a recall of over 1.7 million vehicles stemming from these issues, which they now acknowledge they first learned about in 2001, and which have been directly linked to accidents on the road in which 12 people have lost their lives,” Heller said. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., the chairman of the subcommittee, will hold a hearing on GM likely early next month, per her office. Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.