Auto Safety Watchdog Says 303 Deaths Related to GM Ignition Recall

By Matthew Askari | March 15, 2014
An issue that resulted in a General Motors recall may be responsible for up to 303 deaths, according to an automotive safety watchdog. The Center for Auto Safety said it referenced crash and fatality data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatal Analysis Reporting System, according to a report in Reuters. The 303 deaths allegedly occurred when airbags failed to deploy in 1.6 million compact cars recalled by GM.
Those numbers are in stark contrast to the 12 deaths GM has reported in 34 crashes. In response to the watchdog's death toll claim, GM said the Center for Auto Safety created its report on "raw data," and added "without rigorous analysis, it is pure speculation to attempt to draw any meaningful conclusions." The faulty switch problem may shut off and deactivate the airbags while the car is in motion and traveling at high speeds.
Affected vehicles include the 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5, 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR, and 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky models. The U.S. automaker issued the recall in February, despite first learning about the faulty ignition switch in 2001. Clarence Ditlow, the center's executive director, believes action should have been taken long ago. "NHTSA could and should have initiated a defect investigation to determine why airbags were not deploying in Cobalts and Ions in increasing numbers." U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx promised an "aggressive investigation," and would look at whether GM was slow in reporting the faulty ignition problems to the federal government. The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan has opened a criminal probe, while House and Senate committees have pledged to hold hearings questioning GM and the NHTSA's handling of the situation. GM has said the investigation is "ongoing." Source: Reuters