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303 Deaths Linked to GM Airbag Failures

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Jarod Cassidy4 years ago

A new review of federal crash data indicates that 303 people have died due to airbags failing to deploy in two GM models that were recalled last month for defective ignition switches – 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalts and 2003-2007 Saturn Ions.

About the GM Airbag Study

“N.H.T.S.A. claims it did not do an investigation because it did not see a defect trend. In some instances, single complaints can trigger recalls.” – Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety as published by the New York Times

According to the New York Times, the study, commissioned by the Center for Auto Safety, analyzed instances of airbag failure from 2003 to 2012, but did not evaluate the cause of the crashes.

In a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the center criticized the regulatory authority for their failure to detect the airbag failures, as well as the defective ignition switches, and to designate the failures as a hazard to consumers.

The federal regulator denied any fault by stating that the data available at the time did not contain sufficient evidence of a possible safety defect to warrant a formal investigation.

GM argues that the report is unsound and that, so far, only 13 deaths can be positively attributed to airbag failures caused by the faulty ignition switches. The automaker has also denied responsibility for a number of those crashes, claiming that other factors, like alcohol, played a role in the collisions.

An attorney representing the family of one of the deceased, however, points out that “airbags are supposed to deploy whether people have been drinking or not.”

About the General Motors Recall

To date, GM has issued a recall of more than 1.6 million automobiles worldwide. The vast majority of those recalled, roughly 1.3 million, were sold in the United States.

When investigations began, court depositions indicated that the company knew of the defect as early as 2004, when a GM engineer experienced the issue while test driving a 2005 Chevy Cobalt, but waited 10 years to initiate a recall. More recent reports have GM identifying the problem in 2001.

GM is now facing a number of investigations from federal agencies and congressional committees including the NHTSA, the Department of Justice and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The compnay could potentially face a fine of $35 million and further criminial investigatins should any fault be found.

U.S. Models currently being recalled are:

  • 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalts
  • 2007 Pontiac G5s
  • 2003-2007 Saturn Ions
  • 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHRs
  • 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstices
  • 2006-2007 Saturn Skies


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