Watchdog: 13 Deaths? GM’s Recall Issue Has Caused Over 300

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Image is unrelated to General Motors and its recall.

By General Motors’ (NYSE:GM) count, approximately thirteen people have died as a result of the ignition issues behind its latest 1.6 million vehicle recall. While that’s still thirteen deaths too many, it’s well below the 303 deaths that have been recorded by U.S. safety regulators, all stemming from a failure of airbag deployment, which can occur when the car shuts down while at speed.

Earlier this week, it was reported that GM had actually known about the problem since 2001, despite stating 2004 previously. Nonetheless, no actions appear to have been taken until January, in a recall that was nearly doubled in size last month. General Motors has been pressured to provide a $1 billion fund with which to compensate families and victims, though some would-be plaintiffs are barred from suing under the terms of GM’s emergence from bankruptcy in 2009 (the company today is technically a different company than it was pre-bailout), Reuters reports.

The Center for Auto Safety, which produced the figure, said it referenced crash and fatality data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS). In response, GM said late on Thursday that the new report was based on “raw data” and “without rigorous analysis, it is pure speculation to attempt to draw any meaningful conclusions,” per Reuters.

“NHTSA could and should have initiated a defect investigation to determine why airbags were not deploying in Cobalts and Ions in increasing numbers,” said Clarence Ditlow, the executive director for the Center.

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