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Is the G.M. recall scandal an opportunity for positive change?

The scandal currently plaguing the General Motors Company is a frustrating shame and a tragedy. So far, the public has learned that for nearly a decade numerous GM employees were aware of a potentially deadly defect affecting millions of ignition switches. These GM employees failed to fix the defect and failed to notify the public. Officially, 13 deaths have been tied to car accidents caused by these defective ignition switches, although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently insisted that more deaths are “likely” connected to the defective GM ignition switches.

It is difficult to see how anything positive could come out of such a negligent and disrespectful regard for consumer safety and American lives. However, the New York Times recently reported that the GM recall scandal may be used as a catalyst for profound change within the consumer safety community and within the auto manufacturing industry. If this scandal can inspire truly positive change, then all the consequences of the scandal need not be tragic.

When GM recently released the results of an internal investigation related to the defect scandal, many safety experts and federal regulators viewed it as substantial evidence that certain aspects of both auto manufacturing generally and GM’s operations specifically are in need of serious reform.

Firing a few dozen GM employees will not adequately right the wrongs which occurred when millions of motorists were put at risk due to a known defect. Hopefully the anger and frustration that has been inspired by the scandal will provide a catalyst for truly positive motor safety reform.

Source: New York Times, “Some See G.M. Report as Powerful Ammunition for Change,” Matthew L. Wald and Rachel Abrams, June 5, 2014

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