EDISON - Relatives of people who died as a result of a defective part on some General Motors cars spoke before a hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

The carmaker reportedly knew about the defect for years, before issuing a recall. Survivors and family members say a recall could have saved lives.

The congressional hearing is looking into faulty ignition switches in certain GM cars that are being blamed in 13 deaths.   

Samantha Denti, of Toms River, says she survived the three times her 2005 Cobalt shut down on the road  with no warning. "Driving this car is like playing a game of Russian roulette with my safety and that of my friends," she says.

During the hearing, a representative showed the part in question and demonstrated how easy it was for the key to move out of position, causing the engine to stall.

"We are the people left behind when a loved one got into what was supposed to be a safe car," says the mother of one of the victims, Laura Christian.

GM CEO Mary Barra apologized to the victims and their families, but says things will be different now that she is in charge. "While I can't turn back the clock, as soon as I learned about the problem, we acted without hesitation."

"I can't tell you why it took so long for a safety defect to be announced for this program, but I can tell you we will find out," Barra says.

For some family members, that may not be enough. "I don't want any more drivers to be mourned by family and friends because an automaker hid a deadly problem," says Denti. "Federal government failed to take action and drivers like me were kept in the dark."

GM has submitted documents that indicate the piece needed to fix the defective switch would have cost just 57 cents.