Shut your ‘deathtrap’: GM probe reveals banned words list

May 17, 2014

DETROIT (AP) — The revelation of a list of banned words at General Motors is one of the odder twists in the company’s ongoing recall of 2.6 million small cars for defective ignition switches.

The U.S. government slapped GM with a $35 million fine Friday for failing to report the deadly defect sooner. The government also released a 2008 GM training document that warns employees to not use language that could hurt the company.

Adjectives like “bad,” ”terrifying,” ”horrific” and “evil” are on the list. So are unflattering terms like “deathtrap” and “Hindenburg.”

The government says that the materials were part of a larger problem at GM, where engineers were reluctant to use words like “defect.”

But safety advocates say it’s common for automakers to avoid words that might legally trigger a recall.

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