July 2, 2014 / 5:28 PM / in 4 years

U.S. Senate panel sets July 17 hearing on GM ignition switch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Senate panel’s probe into General Motors Co’s botched handling of faulty ignition switches that have been tied to at least 16 fatal car crashes will continue with a second hearing on July 17.

A man walks past a row of General Motors vehicles at a Chevrolet dealership on Woodward Avenue in Detroit, Michigan April 1, 2014. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Wednesday announced the hearing to be held by a consumer protection and product safety subcommittee.

It follows an initial hearing held in early April.

The Senate panel, along with the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, is investigating why it took GM more than a decade to recall cars with the safety defect.

The Senate Commerce Committee has not yet announced who will testify at the July 17 hearing.

GM CEO Mary Barra has made three appearances before the House and Senate panels since the beginning of April.

The faulty ignition switches on a range of GM vehicles can cause engines to stall and power brakes and steering to malfunction. The problem also was found to prevent air bags from deploying during crashes.

Last month, GM announced the creation of a victims’ compensation fund and it has promised to improve handling of safety defects.

But the Detroit automaker still faces ongoing investigations by the U.S. Congress, the Justice Department and state agencies, as well as several lawsuits.

GM has acknowledged at least 16 deaths and 61 crashes related to the ignition switch problem.

Reporting by Richard Cowan; editing by Matthew Lewis

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