Consumer group: GM-recalled cars involved in 303 deaths

Watchdog group says its review of federal data has identified 303 deaths in GM cars with undeployed air-bags.

By Ananth Baliga
Consumer group: GM-recalled cars involved in 303 deaths
The 2004 Saturn ION Quad Coupe is one of the cars being recalled. (Credit:GM)

WASHINGTON, March 14 (UPI) -- A study commissioned by the Center for Auto Safety found that 303 people were killed in crashes involving GM vehicles recalled for a faulty ignition switch.

General Motors has been feeling the heat for the recall, with multiple investigations launched into the issue, including a Congressional investigation. According to the review, reported by The New York Times, the 303 deaths were linked to the faulty deployment of airbags in two of the models recalled last month.


The review was conducted by Friedman Research, a company that analyzes vehicle safety data, using the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System to look for deaths related to the 2005-07 Chevrolet Cobalt and 2003-07 Saturn Ion. The review looked at cases in which the airbags failed to deploy, without regard to the cause of the crash.

The Center For Auto Safety has been critical of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's inability to detect the airbag deaths and faulty ignition switches.

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“N.H.T.S.A. claims it did not do an investigation because it did not see a defect trend,” Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the center, wrote in the letter. “In some instances, single complaints can trigger a recall.”


General Motors has called the use of FARS data pure speculation.

“As knowledgeable observers know, FARS tracks raw data,” Greg Martin, a G.M. spokesman, said. “Without rigorous analysis, it is pure speculation to attempt to draw any meaningful conclusions.”

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General Motors was aware of the faulty ignition as far back as 2001, according to documentation submitted to the NHTSA. The car maker claims that problem can blinked to 31 accidents and 12 deaths, but the company has refused to release details of these cases.

On Feb 13, General Motors recalled 778,000 cars of two models -- 2005-07 Chevrolet Cobalts and 2007 Pontiac G5. Two weeks later it expanded the recall to four other models -- the 2003-07 Saturn Ion; the 2006-07 Chevrolet HHR and Pontiac Solstice; and the 2007 Saturn Sky -- taking the recall to 1.6 million vehicles.

[New York Times]

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