Families affected by the faulty General Motors ignition defect are speaking out on Capitol Hill ahead of the congressional hearing today. According to GM, 31 crashes and 13 fatalities have been linked to the problem.

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On Monday, GM announced it will recall an additional 1.3 million vehicles in the United States over a power-steering issue.

Laura Christian’s teenage daughter, Amber Marie Rose, was killed in a car crash in 2005.

She said, “This is just the tip of the iceberg. We are the people left behind when a loved one got into what was supposed to be a safe car – a GM car. A car that GM knew for years was dangerous and defective.”

Christian charged that corporate executives made a decision that fighting the problem was cheaper than fixing it.

She said her mission is to ensure that everyone driving the dangerous cars is aware of the defects. “A lot of these cars have been resold, and as such, a recall notice will not be sent to them.”

Christian noted that the message on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website does not convey an urgent and transparent warning.

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The second part of Christian’s mission is to reform the way GM and other car manufacturers do business.

“Car manufacturers cannot be permitted to continue as if there is an acceptable loss of life,” she said, calling on Congress to pass legislation that will give the public access to life and death information and more funding for NHTSA.

Also speaking on Capitol Hill was Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey (D). Holding an ignition switch that’s same design as the defected GM ones, Sen. Markey said, “We now know that the difference between this switch and one that would have worked properly was life or death.”

Chief congressional correspondent Mike Emanuel reported that GM CEO Mary Barra is expected to be apologetic during her testimony today. Lawmakers will likely press her on why it took the company more than a decade to reveal the ignition problem.