U.S. auto giant General Motors has won a case in which it was accused of causing accidents as a result of a double ignition switch rotation. It had been claimed that the flawed ignition switches were responsible for 124 deaths. The ignition switches also triggered a massive recall. According to the judge presiding over the case, the plaintiffs failed to offer expert testimony which could prove that the crashes were caused by the defective ignition switches.
According to the plaintiffs the ignition switches were in a running position when the impacts occurred but then moved to off position and this resulted in the accidents or at least making the accidents worse. Prior to the airbags deploying the ignition switches then moved back to the running position.
Settlements and penalties
So far General Motors has paid amounts totaling over $2.6 billion in settlements and penalties over ignition switches which are blamed for causing engines to stall thereby preventing airbags from deploying. Since February 2014, the biggest automaker in the United States has recalled over 2.6 million cars over the defect. While General Motors has settled claims with over 1,700 claimants, there were around 1,723 claims that are remain unresolved.
The win by General Motors comes in the wake of receiving a patent for pedestrian airbags. This comes as a part of an effort in the industry to address a problem causing one in seven traffic deaths in the United States. According to The Carlab design analyst, Maeva Ribas, the most likely cause of deaths for pedestrians is not the first impact but rather the secondary impact which occurs when the victim passes over the hood hitting their heads against the frame of the windshield.
“GM is looking at the big picture. The company has made a big deal about some of their small cars having 10 airbags to prove they’re safer, and break the stereotype of small cars not being safe,” AutoPacific’s product analysis manager, Dave Sullivan,said.
Three years ago approximately 5,376 pedestrians in the United States died after being hit by cases. This was about 15% of the fatalities in road accidents. About 818 cyclists were also killed after being hit by cars.
In 2016 pedestrians who died after being hit by cars increased by 11% to reach a figure of close to 6,000 according to a Governors Highway Safety Association report released last year in March. This was the largest single-year rise in pedestrian traffic fatalities ever.