The public statements by General Motors CEO Mary Barra as to the number of fatalities tied to its ignition switch defect have been evasive and unacceptable. Ms. Barra made remarks last month at a shareholders’ meeting in Detroit that gave the impression there have been more than the13 fatalities GM admits. She also answered questions on June 18 when she went back before a Congressional Committee hearing. Her answers at the hearing were vague when she was asked specifically how many deaths had been caused by the ignition switch defect.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is among several skeptics of GM’s estimate that the defect caused only 13 fatalities. Acting Administrator David Friedman said in May that the actual count could be higher, putting the number at 74. But Friedman said the agency does not have exact figures for the number of deaths caused by the defect. NHTSA, which in May locked the automaker into a settlement that included a $35 million fine, said that it is helping families of victims determine whether their loved ones are among the fatalities that GM has acknowledged. GM’s internal investigation showed a pattern of incompetence and neglect by GM employees. The Center For Auto Safety puts the number of deaths at 303 and we believe the actual number could even be higher.
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