Safety group claims 303 deaths linked to recalled GM cars

(CNN) - An auto safety group says federal data show there were 303 deaths in recalled General Motors cars in which airbags did not deploy, but GM says the report misrepresents raw information about crashes.

The Center for Auto Safety, a public interest group started by Ralph Nader and Consumers Union, has written to federal safety regulators charging that the number of accidents is far greater than being admitted by GM.

General Motors says it has traced a defect in an ignition switch to at least 12 deaths. The problem caused the car to shut off while driving -- disabling the airbag system.

But GM disputes the Center for Auto Safety's suggestion, reported Thursday night by the New York Times, that all those deaths are tied to the problems with the ignition.

"Without rigorous analysis, it is pure speculation to attempt to draw any meaningful conclusions," the company said in a statement. "In contrast, research is underway at GM and the investigation of the ignition switch recall and the impact of the defective switch is ongoing."

One possible reason a car could have a fatal accident without an airbag deploying is if the car is hit on the side or rolls over. Side air bags are designed to protect drivers and passengers in such accidents, but they were only optional in most of the cars involved in the recall.

The ignition recall covers the 2005-07 Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5, the 2003-07 Saturn Ions, the 2006-07 Chevrolet HHRs, the 2006-07 Pontiac Solstice, and the 2007 Saturn Sky.


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