— After the grilling members of Congress gave the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over its failures to monitor the gambles of General Motors and its ignition switches, it looks like NHTSA is upping the ante with automakers.
NHTSA took heat from Congress after it was discovered GM had concealed defective ignition switches in its cars during a 10-year period. It might have been a case of the wolf guarding the hen house based on the fact NHTSA is a government agency, and it was the U.S. government that loaned GM $49.5 billion to keep the doors open.
The government bailout left U.S. taxpayers $11.2 billion in debt after all was said and done, and NHTSA did nothing while defective GM vehicles were killing people.
However, in the past few days NHTSA has demanded answers from Fiat Chrysler about 20 of its recalls, taken control of the Takata airbag debacle and now safety regulators have announced they will continue babysitting GM.
NHTSA says it is extending by a year its federal nanny role over GM's decision-making concerning safety issues and recalls. Other government requirements must be followed by General Motors for the next two years.
It was a year ago that GM paid a $35 million civil penalty while agreeing to allow NHTSA to monitor the automaker's behavior. The civil penalty was the result of GM's failure to report the ignition switch defect in the Chevy Colt.
The government believes the past year of babysitting GM has helped push the automaker to improve its safety policies and be more accountable for its actions.
However, it's a sad state of affairs when the same government that bailed GM out of its previous disasters must stand over the shoulder of the automaker to keep it from selling defective cars that kill customers.