U.S. NHTSA chief says agency did not have evidence to warrant GM probe

WASHINGTON, March 31 Mon Mar 31, 2014 3:06pm EDT

WASHINGTON, March 31 (Reuters) - The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not have enough evidence to open a formal investigation into defective ignition switches in General Motors cars, NHTSA acting Administrator David Friedman said in prepared testimony to Congress.

Friedman, who will testify on Tuesday before a House of Representatives panel, said GM "had critical information that would have helped identify this defect," which is linked to 13 deaths and has prompted the recall of 2.6 million GM cars.

He said had GM provided the information sooner, NHTSA likely would have changed its approach to investigating the defect. (Reporting by Eric Beech)