DETROIT -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is extending its oversight of General Motors' safety practices for another year as part of a sweeping consent order signed in 2014 when the company issued a broad recall of cars for faulty ignition switches.
Paul Hemmersbaugh, chief counsel at NHTSA, said Tuesday that the agency unilaterally extended the order for a third and final year and that terms of the oversight won't change. He was a panelist at Crain’s General & In-House Counsel Summit here on Tuesday.
GM, Hemmersbaugh said, thought it was appropriate to have another year of oversight.
“It isn’t that GM has done anything in particular that is to warrant this, it’s just that they think it’s productive, too, and so we’ve extended it for a year,” he said.
The order was prompted by GM’s recall of 2.6 million small cars with defective ignition switches that have been linked to more than 120 deaths and 275 injuries.
Under the 2014 deal with NHTSA, GM must provide a written list every month of all safety issues under review by the automaker's investigators -- often before the company decides whether to launch a recall.
A GM spokesman described the meetings that the company has had with NHTSA as "extremely productive" and that they see continued oversight as a "positive."
The company agreed to monthly meetings and enhanced oversight in 2014 and was fined $35 million by NHTSA over its delayed response to the ignition switch defect in millions of vehicles.
The monthly meetings and disclosures have at times helped prompt GM recalls.
GM agreed to recall 317,000 2013-16 Chevrolet Sonic and Trax vehicles and 2013-15 Chevrolet Spark vehicles in the United States equipped with a "Bring Your Own Media" radio, documents posted Monday by NHTSA show. The recall came after at least two discussions between GM and NHTSA on the issue in March.
The radios may fail to provide a warning chime when the driver, after turning off the ignition and leaving the key in, waits 10 minutes or longer to open the door. That fails to comply with U.S. theft protection rules. The recall also impacted about 44,000 vehicles in China.
GM's costs related to the ignition switch defects topped $2 billion, including a $900 million settlement with the U.S. Justice Department in September 2015, which also included a separate three-year consent decree and oversight by an outside independent monitor.
Reuters contributed to this report