General Motors announced last month that it was recalling more than 1.6 million cars because of faulty ignition switches, reported The New York Times (3.14.14). The automaker has acknowledged to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration safety regulators that at least 12 deaths and 31 traffic accidents have been linked to the ignition defect. Attorney at Law David Perecman understands that GM knew about the problem for a number of years, but failed to fix it.
A new review of federal crash data by the Friedman Research Corporation showed that 303 people died after the air bags failed to deploy on two of the models that were recalled, the 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, said The New York Times.
The faulty switch made it possible for an object to knock the ignition key from “run” to “off” while the car was in motion. The loss of power disables safety systems such as the power steering, anti-lock brakes and air bags, reported The New York Times.
“The deaths did not occur because the car crashed. Apparently, the deaths occurred when the car crashed and the airbags failed to deploy,” said Perecman.
G.M. criticized the use of the federal crash data, called the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, for tracking raw data without rigorous analysis,” said The New York Times.
One crash mentioned in The New York Times is the one that killed Hasaya Chansuthus, 25, in December, 2009. Chansuthus was driving her 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt in the Tennessee rain when she sideswiped a car and hit a tree head-on at 70 miles an hour. The air bags did not deploy. Her family suspected a defect in the power system might have affected the air bags and the seatbelt lock.
Apparently GM acknowledged it had received reports of the ignition defect as early as 2001, according to The New York Times.
“If GM knew about the potential problem for years and failed to properly disclose the problem or recall the cars in a timely manner, it would be an epitome of corporate irresponsibility,” said Perecman.
The review of the air bag failures spanned the time from 2003 to 2012. The GM recalls were issued in February. The models are 2003-07 Saturn Ions, 2006-07 Chevrolet HHRs, 2006-07 Pontiac Solstices, 2006-07 Saturn Sky models, and 2005-07 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 models.
An investigation of the ignition switch recall and the impact of the defective switch is currently being conducted, said The New York Times.
If you or a loved one is seriously injured in an auto accident due to a vehicle safety defect, contact the auto accident attorneys at The Perecman Firm at 212-977-7033.
The New York Times story cited is “303 Deaths Seen in G.M. Cars With Failed Air Bags.”