It is a defect linked to at least 13 deaths and 31 accidents. Should using a heavy keychain end a life?
General Motors (GM) has admitted it had knowledge of a defect in ignition switches on six of its model cars. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), GM has long possessed information about the defect including:
- Power to the engine could be lost if a car key pulled slightly downward in the ignition cylinder.
- Weight from a key chain or a driver jostling the key ring could move the car out of the run position. In this position, the engine is off and safety systems such as airbags do not deploy.
- Between 2004 and 2006, GM discussed design changes to the ignition cylinder but did not adequately address the defect.
In the regulatory, legal and media spotlight since February, General Motors has recalled approximately three million cars. The company has also issued denials and apologies. In mid-March, an article in the New York Times quoted Greg Martin, GM spokesperson as stating “research is underway at G.M. and the investigation of the ignition switch recall and the impact of the defective switch is ongoing.”
Since that time, an independent review agency noted approximately 303 people died in collisions in two affected GM models between 2003 and 2012 due to faulty airbag deployment.
As facts emerged in the media, GM chief executive officer Mary Barra stepped forward and stated, “I am very sorry for the loss of life that has occurred and we will take every step that we can to make sure that this never happens again.”
Placing two or even three keys on a key chain should not be a reason to die.