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Report: GM Ignition Switch Recalls May be Linked to 74 Deaths

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 6/4/2014 Karla Sanchez
2007 Chevrolet Cobalt Coupe SS© Provided by MotorTrend 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt Coupe SS

There's been a reported 13 deaths linked to the GM ignition switch recall debacle, but according to a new report by Reuters, that number could increase to include dozens more. An investigation into government fatal-crash data reveals that 74 total deaths could be linked to car accidents involve with the massive recall.

2007 Saturn Ion Front Three Quarter© Provided by MotorTrend 2007 Saturn Ion Front Three Quarter

After taking a closer look at records between 2003 and 2012 in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), Reuters found that accidents in GM cars happened at a higher rate compared to other vehicles in the same segment. Since a huge chunk of the recall involves certain Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion models, the news agency compared accidents that happened in those to ones that happened in the Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. Findings showed that accidents in the Ion happened nearly six times more than those in the Corolla, and twice more than the Focus. Reuters also reports that the Ion had 5.9 fatal crashes per 100 cars sold, while the Cobalt had 4.1. Furthermore, the agency found 45 front-seat fatalities happened in the Cobalt and 29 in the Ion.

GM Ignition Assembly Recall Chevrolet Cobalt Installation 2© Provided by MotorTrend GM Ignition Assembly Recall Chevrolet Cobalt Installation 2

Because detailed data isn't revealed in FARS records, it's hard to say whether the accidents are directly linked to the defective switches. Although it's very possible the air bags may have failed to deploy in the crashed GM cars for other reasons, the findings are still uncanny. GM claims that only 13 deaths have been linked to the defective switches, though a spokesman from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told Reuters said he think more lives were lost as a result of the defective switches.

Research

Dealers have been feverishly working to replace ignition switches that fail to meet GM's torque specification. Affected ignition switches could unintentionally move from the "run" position, causing the engine to turn off. This could cause a crash if the car is still in motion, resulting in the airbags not deploying because the car is off. Until the recalled cars can be fixed, GM is urging owners to only leave the vehicle key on the key ring.

Again, recalled models include the 2003-2007 Saturn Ion; 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt; 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice; 2007-2010 Pontiac G5; 2007-2010 Saturn Sky; and 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR. Reuters used only the Ion and Cobalt for its analysis.

Source: Reuters

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