Stemming from the very late recall of 2.6 million cars equipped with defective ignition switches, General Motors so far linked 13 deaths and 47 crashes to the problem.
But, as many detractors say, including lawyers of the recall suits plaintiffs and even officials from the NHTSA, the number of deaths could be far higher. According to a Reuters analysis of government fatal-crash data, the tally could be increased by at least 74 people – all dying in accidents that have key data linking them to the already recognized 13 deaths.
The analysis used data from the government’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), a national database that collects information from local law-enforcement agencies, searching for instances where GM’s cars were involved in single-car frontal collisions, with the front airbags failing to properly deploy and the accident killing either the driver or front-seat passenger.
The data is subject to change though, as the information collected does not report what caused the failure and the source of the accident, which means that other problems could have resulted in the airbags failing to deploy.
On the other hand, the research revealed that for the Chevrolet Cobalt and the Saturn Ion, the cars from model years 2003 through 2010 that were all recalled for the problem, the occurrence of the fatal accidents is statistically higher than in three popular small-car competitors: Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.