(Adds court hearing in final two paragraphs)
WASHINGTON, March 27 General Motors
should promptly warn consumers not to drive GM cars recalled
because of faulty ignition switches that can unexpectedly turn
off engines and air bags as the vehicles are running, U.S.
Senator Richard Blumenthal said on Thursday.
Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut who serves on a
Senate panel that has scheduled a GM oversight hearing on
Wednesday, said in a letter to GM Chief Executive Officer Mary
"I urge you to issue a stronger warning to drivers of
recalled vehicles of the acknowledged risk they are facing,
including a warning not to drive recalled cars. This warning
should be issued as soon as possible - in advance of your
testimony before the Subcommittee."
GM has said that the cars are safe to drive if there is only
a key inserted into the ignition, with no other keys or fobs
attached that could affect the operation of the ignition switch.
Barra, in a video to customers posted on YouTube, said, "GM
engineers have done extensive analysis to make sure if you only
have the key, or the key on only the ring, that the vehicle is
safe to drive."
Blumenthal, along with fellow Democratic Senator Edward
Markey of Massachusetts, has introduced legislation designed to
improve the automobile industry's reporting of safety problems.
It would require manufacturers to provide more information
about fatal accidents and would give the public better access to
Blumenthal, like some consumer groups and other lawmakers,
also urged GM on Thursday to compensate drivers and families of
victims of accidents related to the defective ignition switches.
Senate and House of Representatives committees next week
kick off public hearings on GM's handling of product recalls for
1.6 million vehicles.
The recalls came last month even though GM first noticed
potential problems with its ignition switches in 2001 and
subsequently heard repeated warnings from consumers.
The defective switches have been linked to 12 deaths.
Also on Thursday, a federal judge in Corpus Christi, Texas,
scheduled a hearing for April 4 on a request for a court order
directing GM to notify customers to stop driving recalled
The request was made by Robert Hilliard, a lawyer for
Charles and Grace Silvas, who own a 2006 Chevy Cobalt. They are
suing GM for allegedly concealing the ignition defect for more
than a decade, which they said caused recalled vehicles to lose
(Reporting by Richard Cowan; additional reporting by Jessica
Dye in New York and Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by James
Dalgleish and Cynthia Osterman)