Study: 303 deaths linked to recalled GM cars

Study: 303 deaths linked to recalled GM cars

Updated:
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DETROIT (WJBK) -

A study conducted by the The Center for Auto Safety, a private watchdog group in Washington DC, reports that 303 deaths occurred after airbags failed to deploy in 1.6 million compact cars recalled last month by General Motors Co.

The new report cites a much higher death toll than the 12 deaths in 34 crashes that GM is reporting.

GM did not recall the cars until February, despite learning of problems with the ignition switch in 2001 and issuing related service bulletins to dealers with suggested remedies in 2005.

The auto maker is facing increasing pressure to compensate victims and create a $1 billion fund, even if some would-be plaintiffs are barred from suing under the terms of GM's emergence from bankruptcy in 2009.

The Center for Auto Safety said it referenced crash and fatality data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

GM says that the new report was based on "raw data" and "without rigorous analysis, it is pure speculation to attempt to draw any meaningful conclusions."

Clarence Ditlow, the center's executive director, talks to Fox 2's Robin Murdoch about his organization's findings.  Play the video to hear what he says.

GM ISSUES STATEMENT:

As knowledgeable observers know, FARS tracks raw data. Without rigorous analysis, it is pure speculation to attempt to draw any meaningful conclusions. In contrast, research is underway at GM and the investigation of the ignition switch recall and the impact of the defective switch is ongoing. While this is happening, we are doing what we can now to ensure our customers' safety and peace of mind. We want our customers to know that today's GM is committed to fixing this problem in a manner that earns their trust.

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