Reports Disagree On GM Recall DeathsJune 12, 2014
Despite evidence of a higher number of fatalities related to the recent GM recall, executives with the automotive giant maintain that only 13 deaths are directly related to the defect in the ignition systems of several models. Several other estimates place the death toll from the defect much higher. The defect in the ignition switches can lead to the vehicle shutting down, which can cause the driver to lose control and prevent the airbags from deploying.
Details of GM Recall
The GM recall involves replacing faulty ignition switches that, according to the recall notice, “may allow the key to unintentionally move or switch to the ‘accessory’ or ‘off’ position”. When the ignition switch moves to either of these positions, the vehicle loses power and the airbag sensors shut down. Many of the reported incidents included drivers that jostled the ignition switch housing or weighted down the ignition key with heavy key fobs, lanyards or additional keys on a key chain.
FARS Counts More Deaths From GM Recall Defect
The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), a database of accident reports compiled from law enforcement sources, places the death toll from the GM recall ignition defect at 74. The FARS report, released by the Reuters news agency, tracked incidents involving drivers and front-seat passengers who were killed in single-vehicle, head-on collisions in which the front airbags failed to deploy. The report excluded accidents affecting back-seat passengers and did not include side-impact collisions.
GM Recall Affects 1 Million+ Vehicles
According to the company’s recall notice, the GM recall for faulty ignition switches covers more than a million vehicles manufactured from 2003 to 2007. The models include Chevrolet Cobalts and HHRs, Pontiac G5, Pursuit and Solstice, and Saturn Ion and Sky models. Despite some of the models being at least a decade old, and in spite of previous reports of problems from the ignition switches, GM only issued the recall early this year.
Disagreement Over GM Recall Death Toll
The death toll over the GM recall has become a point of contention between the company and auto safety analysts. GM executives state that their estimate of 13 deaths includes only those directly attributable to the ignition switch problem. The company maintains that the FARS report does not contain sufficient detail to determine whether the 74 deaths in its report can be directly tied to the faulty ignition switch. However, GM also states that it is continuing in its investigation of accidents in which the defective switch could be a factor.
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