Defect on GM Cars that Caused Air Bags to Fail May Have Caused More than 300 Deaths
The consequences of the failure of General Motors to correct a fault in which air bags failed to deploy on cars for more than a decade, may be more serious than previously believed.
USA Today reports a study commissioned by the Center for Auto Safety found that 303 people were killed in crashes of now-recalled General Motors vehicles where the airbags failed, according to a report in the New York Times.
The research company Friedman Research was hired to comb the federal auto Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) for deaths in two of the recalled models of car, the 2005-07 Chevrolet Cobalt and 2003-07 Saturn Ion. The accident analysis firm examined non-rear impact crashes in which the bags did not deploy, the Times reported.
With Congress due to hold hearings on the recall, auto safety campaigners want to convince politicians that enough evidence was available to both General Motors and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to spot this deadly trend much sooner than they did.
Recently I reported on how the two GM vehicles and four other models were recalled in the U.S. last month. At that juncture officials were reporting 13 deaths linked to a flaw in which the ignition would cut off power to the air bag which would not deploy in a crash. The NHTSA recalled 1.3 million cars and reported problems and consumer complaints dating to 2001.
Center for Auto Safety said it believes GM could have taken action sooner and the NHTSA was not aggressive enough in investigating the complaints and keeping tabs on the automaker.
GM has reported a figure of 31 crashes and 12 deaths linked specifically to the recall. The cars were found to have a faulty ignition switch that unintentionally moves out of the “run” positions, shutting off the engine and disabling the airbags.
The FARS data with its dramatically higher figure is based on accident reports at the scene by police agencies and generally is “considered raw information that needs more analysis,” stated USA Today.
A more accurate figure is likely to be forthcoming as the investigation proceeds. Nevertheless, the evidence that has come to light so far during the course of this investigation is highly alarming. Inevitably this issue will result in wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits against GM. Call our experienced Virginia auto accident attorneys at 757.455.0077 if you think you or a loved one has been injured due to a defect on a car.