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US road safety regulator sides with GM after widower’s lawsuit over deadly car crash

US road safety regulator sides with GM after widower’s lawsuit over deadly car crash
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has refused to open a formal investigation into GM after a lawsuit alleged that a defective steering sensor from the company had led to a car crash that killed his wife.

Lance Cooper’s 42-year-old wife died after her 2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer SUV crashed, with the lawsuit alleging it was caused by a defective steering sensor issue that GM was aware of but failed to warn drivers about.

The NHTSA was informed of Cooper’s concerns in February 2020, when he contacted the regulator, asking them to investigate the car company over the issue, to identify if GM was at fault and the vehicles should be recalled.

Earlier this year, NHTSA officials decided that, after reviewing the information provided to them, there is “insufficient evidence to lead to a formal investigation at this time.” However, the regulator was clear that, if enough evidence was provided, they’d be willing to take up the concerns.

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GM employees past and present have previously said in testimony that, even if the steering sensor system fails, cars will remain safe for drivers to steer and brake, allowing them to avoid crashes.

Responding to the NHTSA’s decision to not proceed with an investigation, Cooper expressed disappointment and reiterated his side's belief that the concerns about the steering sensor “unquestionably relates to automotive safety.”

Former NHTSA officials have questioned the decision to not investigate the concerns, as they feel that, with the technology becoming more mainstream, it’s important to ensure it’s completely safe.

Cooper has previously played a role in exposing the issue of defective ignition switches in GM’s vehicles, which saw millions of cars get recalled and the car maker agree to resolve criminal charges.

The lawsuit over the steering sensor, which begun in Georgia in 2016, is ongoing and GM has denied the allegations and dismissed responsibility for the crash.

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