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Could Auto Manufacturers Be Forced To Reveal Defects Sooner?

June 23, 2016
Colson Hicks Eidson

Back in 2005, a technical service bulletin (TSB) was sent to GM dealerships all over the world. It warned that the ignition switches in GM cars could cause a “moving stall,” which could shut down a vehicle’s power steering, power brakes and airbags, but this information wasn’t shared with the public. Two years later, a GM vehicle was involved in a deadly crash in which the car’s airbag did not deploy. Investigators soon realized that the ignition switch was involved, and a national recall was started, but could this problem have been taken care of two years earlier?

Could Auto Manufacturers Be Forced To Reveal Defects Sooner?

Officials at the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) have been trying to get car manufacturers to release their TSBs and other vehicle defect bulletins to the Department of Transportation (DOT) for years. These bulletins have always gone to dealerships and automotive techs who pay for them, but these communications have always been a secret to the public, until now.

The DOT will finally post TSBs on the safercar.gov website as part of a new effort from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Administration says that releasing this information to consumers, watchdog groups, and safety advocates could speed up the safety recall process, which in turn could save lives.

A 2005 TSB identified the GM ignition switch defect almost two years before the defect claimed its first victim. If consumer safety groups had been able to see this bulletin when it was released, they might have been able to start the recall sooner, and lives could have been saved. However, times are changing and safety officials are doing their best to make sure the past is not repeated. Hopefully, their efforts will save more lives and make the future a better place for everyone.

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