Thirteen people have died in vehicle crashes linked to faulty ignition switches in several General Motors cars, but now it is being alleged that at least 74 have perished in similar circumstances.
Reuters is reporting that they searched the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) for single-car frontal collisions where no front air bags deployed and the driver and/or front-seat passenger was killed. FARS is a national database of crash information submitted by local law-enforcement agencies.
The news agency then compared the rate of incidence of the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion with three competitors (Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla, and Honda Civic), with the frequency of such accidents for the Ion two to six times more than the aforementioned competitors. The Cobalt fared a little better, with as much as four times more.
However, Reuters also says is not clear if defective ignition switches were involved in the fatal accidents because crash reports genereally do not include that data. That leaves open the possibility that air bags may have failed to deploy in some of the GM crashes for reasons other than faulty switches.
General Motors has declined to comment on these findings or methodology, instead stating, “Our focus is on doing the right thing for customers — fixing the recalled vehicles as quickly as possible, addressing our civic and legal responsibilities and setting a new industry standard for safety.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Acting Administrator, David Friedman, added, “The final death toll associated with this safety defect is not known to NHTSA, but we believe it’s likely that more than 13 lives were lost.”