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GM Under Investigation for Airbag Issues

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Warren, MIWhen it comes to vehicle manufacturers touting the importance of safety features such as airbags, it makes sense to assume that issues such as an airbag failure would get the manufacturer’s attention, especially when that failure can result in airbag injuries. But General Motors is reportedly under investigation for issues related to certain vehicles that could result in an airbag failure.

On March 4, 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sent a letter to GM with 107 questions about GM's February 7, 2014 recall of more than 600,000 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 vehicles. The recall was announced after it was determined that the vehicles contained a defect in which the ignition switch could inadvertently be moved from the “run” position to the “accessory” or “off” position. That occurrence could result in a loss of power to the vehicle.

“In some cases, the timing of the ignition switch movement relative to the activation of the sensing algorithm of the crash event may result in the airbags not deploying,” the letter stated.

Furthermore, the NHTSA noted, on February 25, 2014, that GM added more vehicles to the recall list due to the same safety defect. The approximately 750,000 additional vehicles - for a total of almost 1.4 million - included Chevrolet HHR, and Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Ions and Saturn Sky vehicles. Following notification of the recalls, the NHTSA opened a Timeliness Query, to investigate whether GM adequately responded to concerns about defects in its vehicles.

According to the New York Times (3/2/14), the first crash in which the airbag failed to deploy that was linked to the ignition switch defect occurred in 2005 and resulted in the death of 16-year-old Amber Marie Rose. In all, according to the Times report, 13 deaths would be linked to the same defect, one that GM and the NHTSA allegedly failed to respond to, despite warnings and despite allegations that the company knew as early as 2004 about the issue.

Lawsuits have been filed against GM by the family members of those who have died in car accidents where the airbag failed to deploy. Those include a lawsuit by Amber Rose’s family, which was settled for a confidential amount, and a lawsuit by the family of Brooke Melton. That lawsuit was also settled for a confidential amount, according to USA Today (2/19/14).

GM has until April 3, 2014 to respond to the letter.

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READER COMMENTS

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I was a previous owner of a Chevrolet HHR before the auto accident in 2009 where the airbag had deployed and caused major damages to my body and hospital stay on life support. My livilhood changed in a tremendous way

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