In a letter sent to U.S. regulators on Monday, the Center for Auto Safety claimed to have linked 143 fatalities to airbag failures in 2003-2010 model year Chevy Impalas.
“This is a design defect in every GM vehicle with the flawed algorithm.” – Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety as published by Bloomberg News
According to the Bloomberg News, the Center for Auto Safety reviewed crash data collected from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) fatal-crash database and was able to link 143 deaths to frontal collisions in which an Impala’s airbags failed to deploy.
Further, the Washington-based watchdog group was able to determine that 98 of the fatalities involved occupants who were wearing seatbelts at the time of the collision.
The Center for Auto Safety also cited a government petition by a former GM researcher who claims to have found a software fault that can misread a passenger’s weight and disable frontal airbags.
In his petition, Donald Friedman calls on the NHTSA to open an investigation into whether GM’s electronic algorithms can interfere with or inhibit airbag deployment. Additionally, he is asking the federal regulator to investigate whether incorrect data can be produced if a passenger is bumped out of their seat.
Friedman has since been hired by the family of a man killed in 2011 after an Impala’s passenger-side airbag failed to deploy during a collision with a road barrier.
During the April accident, Aurora Martinez was driving a 2008 Impala along a Texas highway in Mission Hidalgo County when she was struck by another driver. Her sedan went over a road barrier and struck another barrier head-on.
The passenger-side airbag failed to deploy during the collision, allegedly resulting in the death of her husband, Robert Martinez.
Information from the car’s data recorded revealed that the passenger-side airbag did not deploy because it had registered Roberto Martinez as a small adult – he weighed 170 pounds.