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GM Ignition Recall Points to Larger Problem

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Jarod Cassidy3 years ago

With investigations into General Motors’ recall of 2.6 million vehicles equipped with defective ignition switches ongoing, federal regulators are now finding that they may need to address a larger problem: a lack of knowledge in airbag safety.

How Long Do Airbags Work after and Engine Stalls?

From statements made to Congress last month, it appears that federal safety regulators believed that airbags would work for up to 60 seconds following an engine stall; however, statements by GM suggest a much shorter timeframe.

In fact, according to the Seattle Post-Intellegencer, GM informed the Associated Press that their recalled cars only had enough reserve power to operate airbags for up to 150 milliseconds following loss of power. Further, while GM stated the window was slightly larger in newer models, it was still under one second.

In light of this “new” information, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is scrambling to address the complex issue of airbag performance. The agency recently announced that it is working with multiple automakers to determine what effects an engine stall may have on airbag functionality and will take “appropriate action” based on its findings.

As of now, however, regulators do not oversee the conditions in which an airbag should deploy or how much power is required for deployment.

About the GM Ignition Recall

In February, GM announced the recall of multiple Saturn, Chevrolet and Pontiac models equipped with defective ignition switches claiming that the switches could inadvertently shift out of the “run” position and into the “accessory” or “off” position while the vehicle was still being driven.

The automaker determined that this could cut power to the engine, leaving drivers without essential safety features including power steering, anti-lock brakes, and airbag functionality.

So far, GM has linked 13 deaths and 31 frontal collisions to the defect. Other reports, however, place the death toll much higher.

Federal investigations have suggested that GM knew of the defective switches as early as 2001 but failed to properly address the problem with a recall for over a decade.

GM has hired multiple outside consultants to aid in the ignition switch scandal, including Kenneth Feinberg. Feinberg, often called the “pay czar” is a victims compensation expert who has previously worked on compensation funds for victims affected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Boston Marathon bombing and BP oil spill.


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