General Motors has been fined a record $35 million in civil penalties for its inadequate handling of a recall of more than two million vehicles with ignition switch problems.

The Department of Transportation said GM violated federal safety laws and its decree said GM should change how it handles review of safety issues.

The GM recall includes the 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2007-2010 Pontiac G5, 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR, 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice and 2007-2010 Saturn Sky vehicles.

The fine stems from an investigation into the Chevrolet Cobalt and other GM cars that were found to have faulty ignition. The problem can allow an ignition switch to move out of the “run” position. It can cause air bags to fail to deploy during a crash.

The problem caused more than 30 accidents and 12 deaths.

 

The 2010 Chevy Cobalt is among several GM cars with faulty ignition issues.
The 2010 Chevy Cobalt is among several GM cars with faulty ignition issues.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported the the fine is “the single highest civil penalty amount ever paid as a result of a NHTSA investigation of violations stemming from a recall.”

“Safety is our top priority, and today’s announcement puts all manufacturers on notice that they will be held accountable if they fail to quickly report and address safety-related defects,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in announcing the fine.

Foxx also has asked cCongress to raise the limits on how large a fine the government can use to punish businesses. He cited a new law that would make the limit $300 million.

“We have learned a great deal from this recall. We will now focus on the goal of becoming an industry leader in safety,” said GM CEO Mary Barra.

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