General Motors is facing growing pressure over its claim that only 13 deaths could potentially be linked to accidents arising from defective ignition switches installed in 2.6 million small cars, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“We believe it’s likely that more than 13 lives were lost,” David Friedman, acting administrator of the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, was quoted as saying.
“GM knew about the safety defect, but did not act to protect Americans from that defect until this year. The families and friends of those lost in the crashes… deserve straight answers about what happened to their loved ones.”
GM on Tuesday didn’t directly address the dispute over the number of fatalities. A spokesman said last Friday that only 13 fatalities may be related to the defect.
Clarence Ditlow, the head of the Center for Auto Safety, told the Journal that he expects GM to increase the number of deaths to 50, although he believes the figure is closer to 100.
GM’s tally has counted only deaths from front-impact accidents where an air bag didn’t deploy, the auto maker has told the Transportation Department. Plaintiffs’ lawyers say that if fatalities in other types of accidents caused by sudden stalling are added, the toll is much higher.
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