NHTSA Asked to Investigate More GM Air-Bag Failures
The Center for Auto Safety is the nation’s premier independent, member driven, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy on behalf of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.
General Motors Co. (GM), in the midst of recalling 2.6 million small cars for an ignition-switch flaw that can deactivate air bags, also may have an air-bag defect connected to deadly accidents in its Chevrolet Impala, a safety group said.
The Center for Auto Safety, in a letter to U.S. regulators today, cited a government petition by a former GM researcher who said he found a software fault that can misread a passenger’s weight and render frontal air bags inoperative. The consultant, Donald Friedman, is asking the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to open a defect investigation into 2003-2010 model-year Impalas.
There have been at least 143 fatalities in frontal crashes when an Impala’s air bag didn’t deploy, Friedman said, citing data collected from NHTSA’s fatal-crash database. In 98 of those cases, occupants who died were wearing seat belts.
“This is a design defect in every GM vehicle with the flawed algorithm” in the software, said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Washington-based Center for Auto Safety, which has been tracking recalls and defects since it was founded in 1970.