Major news agencies reporting that GM ignition switch failure may have caused 74 fatalities
Reports from many news agencies, including the Chicago Tribune, were based on information from Reuters after a search of the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), a national database of information submitted by local law-enforcement agencies, for single-car frontal collisions where no front airbags deployed and the driver or front-seat passenger were killed. Reuters reviewed crashed reported to U.S. safety regulators between 2003 and 2012, and found that such accidents occurred at a higher rate in GM cars than in competitor models.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Reuters compared the incidence of this type of deadly accident and the Chevrolet Cobalt and the Saturn Ion against the records of three small car competitors: Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. The study found the frequency of accidents in the Ion nearly six times that of the Corolla and twice that of the Focus. The Chevrolet Cobalt followed closely behind the Ion in accidents.
It is unclear how many of the deadly accidents identified by Reuters involved defective ignition switches, because crash reports typically do not include that data. The number may also be inflated, because airbags are designed not to deploy in some situations, such as where the passenger is a child. The fatalities entered in the FARS database and reviewed by Reuters did not include at least five of the 13 deaths acknowledged by GM. One died in 2013, past the range of the current FARS data and two died in a multi-car accident. Reuters disclosed its findings to GM and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
GM first encountered the problem with the ignition switches in 2001, a year before the Ion went into production. The faulty switch could cause engines to shut off while driving, leading to a sudden loss of power to the vehicle. This would mean a loss of power steering and breaks, as well as the failure of airbags to deploy in the event of a car crash.
GM did not begin recalling the cars until February 2014, following a 2-½ year internal investigation.
GM reported last month that it had replaced just 47,000 of the 2.6 million defective ignition switches and also warned of more recalls through the summer as the automaker continues to look for older problems with vehicles that were never addressed.
The 2.6 million vehicles affected by the GM ignition switch recall, include 2005-10 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2006-11 Chevrolet HHR, 2007-10 Pontiac G5, 2006-10 Pontiac Solstice, 2003-07 Saturn Ion and 2007-10 Saturn Sky.
If you have been injured in an accident involving a Chevy Cobalt or another GM vehicle, please call Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer Marion Munley at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys at 855-866-5529.
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