One of the major points of contention in the GM ignition switch debacle has centered around just how many people were killed due to the problem. GM claimed, and continues to claim, that 13 people have been killed. Safety advocates and lawyers, though, are arguing that the final total will likely be higher.

Of course, we've been down this road before. Back when details of the ignition switch problem first came to light, reports poured out that the actual death tally was around 300, rather than 13. While that figure was quickly discredited, the number being stated by GM has hardly been firm. Now, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is weighing in.

"We believe it's likely that more than 13 lives were lost," said David Friedman, acting head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, according to The Wall Street Journal. "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."

While NHTSA doesn't seem willing to put an exact number on the total deaths due to the recall, safety advocate Clarence Ditlow (pictured above with an ignition switch) isn't so reserved, claiming the tally will, eventually, hit 100.

"My estimate is based on my reading of NHTSA's own reports which show similar accidents where the air bags haven't deployed," Ditlow told the WSJ. "It just makes sense the number would be higher."

More than just safety advocates and regulators, GM itself has a vested interest in figuring out exactly how many deaths can be blamed on the ignition switch problem. The final figure is essential to setting up a victims' fund, while family members need to know whether the death or injury of their loved one was due to GM's mistake. This latest story is far from the last we'll hear about this.


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  • 24 Comments
      Joseph
      • 10 Months Ago
      Exactly where was NHTSA while all this carnage was happening, you mean that the government let GM get away with this with full knowledge and said nothing? I think this is a witch hunt.
      mitytitywhitey
      • 10 Months Ago
      Hey GM, if you want to silence your critics just loan them one of the cars coming in for a recall.
      James John
      • 10 Months Ago
      Old GM, New GM....same GM.
      Clipper44
      • 10 Months Ago
      From 13 to 300 deaths because GM wouldn't replace a 50 cent part. A spring that costs as much as a can of coke. A tiny spring that they couldn't build a business case for a recall even though they knew the consequences.. and then covered it up. Every GM officer that knew about this should be prosecuted for negligent manslaughter.
      Big Squid
      • 10 Months Ago
      And there are still people defending GM for their callous disregard of their customers' lives. "Too many keys on your keyring? You deserve to die." I only hope the rest of us have learned our lesson and will not bail GM out again.
      SKINNYwithNOfood
      • 10 Months Ago
      Yeah if I am going to purchase a domestic car, it will be Ford or Dodge from now on.
      DRC
      • 10 Months Ago
      Not that I'm blaming the car owners here, but how exactly does a car swerve off the road and crash just because the ignition was turned off? You can still steer and brake, it just takes a bit more effort. If the people didn't think they could steer, how did they careen off the highway as some of these reports describe? I've had a car shut off on the road a few times and I'm still alive. Once was my mustang whose engine basically imploded at 65mph, but I was still able to merge over 3 lanes, turn onto a side street, and into a gas station. The other was a Jeep with a solid front axle and hydro ram-assist steering, making it even harder to turn without power steering. Still managed to get it off the road just fine. Maybe we need to use this as a lesson to teach young drivers how to react and survive when god-forbid something goes wrong with the car while you're driving.
        nano404
        • 10 Months Ago
        @DRC
        I was doing my drivers test and was going around a roundabout when the car I was in turned off. I passed.
        cameronvolkman
        • 10 Months Ago
        @DRC
        f it locks the wheel in place how you spossed to move it? Go down the road at 10 MPH and put in N. Now turn off the ignition...now try to turn. that Click you hear is an antitheft device in almost every car with fuel injection. no matter how "Hard" you tug you wont budge it. Now imagine you are doing 70 MPH and go to change lanes and this happens....where are you going? ditch....very quickly. Teach that to a young driver....
        cameronvolkman
        • 10 Months Ago
        @DRC
        If it locks the wheel in place how you spossed to move it? Go down the road at 10 MPH and put in N. Now turn off the ignition...now try to turn. that Click you hear is an antitheft device in almost every car with fuel injection. no matter how "Hard" you tug you wont budge it. Now imagine you are doing 70 MPH and go to change lanes and this happens....where are you going? ditch....very quickly. Teach that to a young driver....
        cameronvolkman
        • 10 Months Ago
        @DRC
        If it locks the wheel in place how you spossed to move it? Go down the road at 10 MPH and put in N. Now turn off the ignition...now try to turn. that Click you hear is an antitheft device in almost every car with fuel injection. no matter how "Hard" you tug you wont budge it. Now imagine you are doing 70 MPH and go to change lanes and this happens....where are you going? ditch....very quickly. Teach that to a young driver....
      forcamilleonly
      • 10 Months Ago
      You want to stop this kind thing from happening over and over again? The people who knew about the defect and didn't warn the public need to be charged with voluntary manslaughter or worse. It is the only way this will stop otherwise they will continue to put profits before lives.
      Gene Markel
      • 10 Months Ago
      When the key is moved to the off position and the engine stops, it is still possible to steer and break the vehicle.
        clquake
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Gene Markel
        Yes, it is possible, but only if you're expecting it. When you suddenly lose power, going from power steering, where you can turn the wheel with your weakest finger, to manual, where you might need to throw your weight into it, is quite a difference, and the brakes will only have a few pumps before the reserve is used.
      Adrian Hosein
      • 10 Months Ago
      I don't understand this, i have 6 keys and a small bottle opener ( what man doesn't have an opener ) on my keychain, along with my car key, when i start my car ( Impreza ), it (top of key) turns towards the dash with the top of the key tilted towards the dash, my other keys are on the bottom part of the key, there is NO way any amount of jossling or bumping can cause those keys to turn the ignition the other way to shut the car off unless i do it, can someone explain how much weight is needed for this to happen? Even on a faulty ignition?
        Debbie Gancas Hernan
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Adrian Hosein
        I have two keys total on my key ring. I have a 2006 Saturn Ion. I am 5'1", so pretty short which means my legs are close to the dash to reach the clutch. Three different times over the years I had the car I was on the freeway driving at 75 MPH when somehow my knee would hit my key and turn it to the off position. Fortunately I had a stick shift so immediately I would put in the clutch and turn the key to restart the car. If I was in an automatic, all power would have been lost and I probably would have crashed with my kids in the car with me. I have no idea how I knew to react the first time it happened, but thankfully I remembered what to do when it happened two more times and nobody ever got hurt.
        jacquelinejsmyth
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Adrian Hosein
        Start working from home! Great job for students, stay-at-home moms or anyone needing an extra income… You only need a computer and a reliable internet connection… Make $90 hourly and up to $12000 a month by following link at the bottom and signing up… You can have your first check by the end of this week......... www.worktin.com
      sbabygirl62
      • 10 Months Ago
      I think in stead of fixing my cobalt they should let me pick a car off there lot, and a lot of other people , what's to say something else ant going to go wrong.
      sbabygirl62
      • 10 Months Ago
      I think in stead of fixing my cobalt they should let me pick a car off there lot, and a lot of other people , what's to say something else ant going to go wrong.
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