At least 13 people have died in auto crashes related to a faulty ignition switch on some General Motors vehicles that are now the subject of a massive recall. According to the Associated Press, the majority of crash victims were under the age of 25.
In part, this may be because some cars involved in the recall – in particular the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion – are inexpensive vehicles that sold well among drivers under 25 and moderate-income families with teenagers. However, there may be other reasons for the disproportionate number of deaths among young people.
The ignition switch malfunction caused cars to stall and lose power while in motion. As a consequence, power steering and brakes suddenly became inoperable, and lifesaving airbag systems failed to deploy. Young, inexperienced drivers are less likely to be able to pull a malfunctioning car off the road safely without the help of steering and brakes, the AP noted.
Young female drivers were particularly at risk for car accidents as a result of the faulty ignition switch. It may have been difficult or impossible for young women with limited upper body strength to safely muscle a car off the road, especially in a situation that may have caused them to panic.
According to reports about the GM recall, the automaker knew for at least a decade about problems with the ignition switches. In 2006, the company redesigned the ignition switches, but accidents continued. The company finally initiated a recall of 2.6 million vehicles in February.
It has been unclear whether GM knew that the redesigned ignition switches were still dangerous. Some members of Congress involved in a recent hearing suggested that GM was not only negligent in its safety monitoring but tried to cover up the problems.
Virginia drivers who were involved in an accident caused by a defective ignition switch or other safety malfunction should contact legal counsel. Virginia personal injury attorneys are working on GM-related cases and can help drivers both young and old to protect their rights and obtain justice from an automaker that appears to have put profits above customer safety.