Since February, the automotive world has been focused on what just may prove one of the biggest automotive recalls in history. And it just got worse for beleaguered car maker General Motors. In February, GM recalled 780,000 vehicles, after reports that 22 automobile crashes resulting in six deaths may have been caused by a faulty ignition switch. Turns out defective switches were shifting unexpectedly, shutting down the vehicles’ engines and seizing the power steering, power brakes and airbag deployment mechanisms – though GM officials pointed to vehicle owners and drivers using heavy key chains and driving on rough terrain. A few weeks later, when reports surfaced that up to 13 deaths may have been caused by the issue GM expanded the recall and admitted that it had known about the issue for a solid decade.
Now, a group of investigative reporters with Thomas Reuters says the death toll caused the faulty switches may actually be far bigger – some 74 fatalities, in fact. That’s according to an analysis of statistics from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), a national database of car crash information. Data shows that 74 car accident deaths that happened between 2003 and 2010 occurred in GM cars with the now-recalled ignition switches, and that details of those crashes were consistent with those of the crashes that prompted the recall.
While the results of the Reuters investigation don’t necessarily prove a definitive cause-and-effect, the figures do show that GM cars were involved in similar accidents at a far higher rate than were vehicles made by other automakers.
“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,” said David Friedman, Acting Administrator of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
Meanwhile, GM is being hit with a barrage of lawsuits and multiple investigations. And, the company this week fired 15 employees, citing a “pattern of incompetence.”
If you drive one of the recalled cars, we here at E3 Spark Plugs urge you to take the recall seriously. Your nearest GM dealership will fix the issue free of charge. Drive safely!