In his op-ed, Mr. Westervelt seems to make every effort to downplay GM’s cavalier attitude to the dangerous ignition switch problem in many of their cars of the recent past. He is welcome to his opinion; however, he stepped over the line in placing the blame for the deaths that have happened due to this malfunction on the victims, saying that “some of these fatalities might have been prevented had these drivers been more astute in reacting to their cars’ malfunctions.”
I had a car that did that to me three years ago. My mechanic tried to locate the problem, but since it turned out not to be in the engine, he was unsuccessful. Fortunately, the times the engine suddenly died happened when I was going slowly enough that I did not wreck. But when the engine died, it was impossible for me to be able to either stop or steer the car. I did not have enough strength to do it with the power steering and power brakes gone. On a test drive, it died on my mechanic, and with his being younger and stronger than I he was able to keep it under control — but “just barely” he told me.
Perhaps Mr. Westervelt is a young, strong man, too. But some are not. Does he then label us as “not astute,” or would he suggest that only young, strong people be allowed to drive? That certainly would clear the roads of a lot of cars, wouldn’t it?
I was deeply insulted by his turning the blame on the drivers who died — it was the ultimate in the “blame the victim” culture we seem to be living in! He owes a huge apology to the family members of those who died because of these faulty ignition switches.
Camille S. Muir