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Many Victims of Defective Ignition Switches Were Younger Drivers

Tina Robinson3 years ago

General Motors has confirmed 13 deaths linked to defective ignition switches installed in Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other models. Some groups estimate the number of fatalities could be even higher. One thing that data shows for certain is that victims of the faulty ignition switches were often younger drivers, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.

Cars Marketed to First-Time Drivers

In the years when the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion were first introduced, the car manufacturer priced vehicles to compete with the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. Specifically, the entry-level cars were marketed to attract younger, first-time drivers. This younger, inexperienced group of drivers, some say are the least prepared to handle a situation in which a vehicle suddenly loses power.

Since February, GM has recalled 2.6 million vehicles to repair defective ignition switches. The faulty switches are easily moved out of the “on” position while being driven when bumped or extra weight is placed on the key chain. The result is a sudden loss of engine power as well as safety features such as power steering, power brakes and airbags.

CEO of the American Drivers Traffic Safety Education Association, Allen Robinson, told the Chicago Tribune that such an event would be panic-inducing for any driver. Robinson noted that most drivers wouldn’t know what to do if a vehicle were to suddenly lose power.

Parents Complained to GM

In 2005, GM issued a statement saying that drivers should be able to shift Cobalts into neutral and restart the engine in the event of a loss of power. At the same time, complaints poured into dealerships, many from parents.

In the complaints, parents said young drivers experienced vehicles stalling in intersections and on the highway. Other parents reported vehicles crashing into ditches or embankments.

Over 90 complaints were read into the record in a George wrongful-death lawsuit which GM eventually settled.

Victims in Texas Lawsuit Mostly Younger

In a motion filed on March 24 in a Corpus Christi, TX court as part of a lawsuit, listed eight possible victims of GM vehicle malfunctions. Seven of those eight victims were 25-years-old or younger. The lawsuit seeks damages for economic losses as a result of the GM recall.

Congressional Hearings to Begin

Congressional hearings are scheduled to begin today in Washington into the events surrounding the GM recall. GM CEO Mary Barra will testify before a House subcommittee on Tuesday and before the Senate on Wednesday. Families of some of the victims also plan to attend the hearings.

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