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General Motors airbags may not deploy in car crash

Most Rhode Island readers know that General Motors Co. makes the Chevrolet Cobalt and the Pontiac G5. What they may not know is that GM is recalling nearly 800,000 Cobalt and G5 vehicles -- 619,122 of which were sold in the United States. Apparently, a defective key ignition switch could prevent the airbags from deploying in a car crash.

GM says that the key ignition can fall into "accessory" or "off" if the vehicle hits a bump and the vehicle key is on a heavy key chain. The engine shuts off, along with many of the vehicle's electronics. This includes the airbags and other vital systems, such as the power brake system.

The company received reports of 22 accidents so far involving this issue. A total of six people died in five of those wrecks. The company says all of the crashes occurred at high speed on rough terrain. A statement issued by the company also indicates that some crashes involved alcohol and occupants that were not properly restrained.

The insinuation is that airbag deployment would not have made a difference. The families of the deceased and those who suffered serious injuries retain the right to file civil actions against GM for the airbag failure. It will be up to the courts to determine whether the failure of the airbags to deploy during a car crash contributed to or caused an injury or death. No information was provided on whether any of the accidents reported so far were in Rhode Island.

Source: Los Angeles Times, GM recalls Chevrolet Cobalt, Pontiac G5 after fatal accidents, Jerry Hirsch, Feb. 13, 2014

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