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NHTSA: Number of GM-Related Fatalities Likely Higher Than 13

Sunday, May 25, 2014

General Motors continues to claim that 13 people were killed in accidents that were directly related to defective ignition switches on several of its automobile models. However, the exact number has been up in the air. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration believes that the number of fatalities related to the defective ignition switches is probably much higher than 13.

It's a declaration by the federal agency that has triggered vociferous criticism against the NHTSA's failure to quickly investigate the defective ignition switches on the GM models, and pressure the company to announce a recall earlier. In fact, when the first reports of the ignition problems on several GM models became known, it appeared that the death tally was around 300. Later the number was found to be false, and General Motors claimed that 13 people had been killed in such accidents.

Now, the federal agency says that it believes more than 13 people were killed in such accidents. According to some safety advocates however, the actual number is probably closer to 100.

This brings us to the question - why did the federal agency delay taking action against the automaker for so long? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is the federal regulatory agency that is charged with identifying and monitoring reports of defects in automobiles, and making sure that defective automobiles are off the road. That clearly has not happened in this case. The General Motors recall of defective vehicles includes more than 2 million cars, and as the scope of the scandal has grown, the number of accidents and fatalities has increased from the initial federal tally of six deaths and 22 accidents, to 31 accidents and 13 fatalities.


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