Faulty airbags in General Motors vehicles have been linked to 303 deaths, according to a new report. The discovery comes amid federal reviews of the auto company’s response to a decade-old ignition failure that led to the recall of over one million vehicles.
The Center for Auto Safety commissioned the study, which reviewed air bag performance between 2003 and 2012, the New York Times reports. The air bag failures occurred in 2003-2007 Saturn Ions and 2005-2007 models of the Chevrolet Cobalt, both of which were among the models recalled due to ignition switch failure in February. The Center for Auto Safety criticized the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for failing to respond to the trends in airbag and ignition failures in GM vehicles in a letter on Thursday.
“NHTSA could and should have initiated a defect investigation to determine why airbags were not deploying in Colbalts and Ions in increasing numbers,” the letter said. "The only way NHTSA could not see a defect trend is if it closed its eyes.”
GM spokesman Greg Martin criticized the report in a response to the Times, saying the database used to track the defects “tracks raw data.”
“Without rigorous analysis," Martin said, "it is pure speculation to attempt to draw any meaningful conclusions.”