— General Motors probably thought it dodged a bullet when a U.S. judge ruled the automaker didn't have to issue a "park-it-now" warning to customers of GM's defective ignition switch.
The lawsuit claimed the ignition switch defect had already caused at least 13 deaths and numerous injuries, therefore GM should issue a notice to keep all the affected cars off the roads. If granted, the order would have kept the cars parked until GM performed the required repairs.
GM argued the cars are safe as long as owners remove the key ring and everything else from the key. The judge ruled the cars can stay on the road, but not necessarily because they are safe to drive. The judge said a "park-it-now" order should be determined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, not in a court of law.
A small victory for GM, but a short-lived celebration.
Now two U.S. senators are asking the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue a warning to GM owners, or at the least make GM issue a warning. Senators Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., asked the government to warn owners to stop driving their cars until they are fixed, which could take until October.
The letter says GM hasn't taken the matter seriously enough and has failed to inform owners just how risky it is to keep driving.
“Every day that unrepaired vehicles remain on the road increases the risk of more injuries, deaths, and damage,” write the Senators. “We believe you – as the federal regulator referred to by the court – have a unique opportunity to protect public safety by taking stronger action to issue warnings of these dangers.”
Thus far, the government has only said owners should follow recommendations set forth by GM about the defective ignition switch. Whether the government will step in and ask GM to issue a warning is debatable because that's something which has never been tried before. Other than ordering a recall, the government doesn't have a legal right to make people stop driving their cars.
Additionally, GM could issue a park-it-now order to customers but how many would actually follow that order is questionable, especially based on the fact millions of people a year ignore official automaker recall notices.
Read complaints submitted to CarComplaints.com about the cars named in the park-it-now lawsuit: