The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received an average of two complaints every single month since February 2003 about spontaneous engine shutdowns of various vehicles manufactured by General Motors. The shutdowns are alleged to be caused by defective ignition switches.
Despite the abundance of complaints, the NHTSA didn't take any action. The agency chose to forgo conducting any real safety defect investigation because officials indicated that there just wasn't enough evidence to show any real problem.
However today, over 11 years after NHTSA was initially notified, vehicle owners still continue to report complaints about defective engine shutoffs in several cars manufactured by GM.
Over 1.5 million vehicles worldwide are known to be affected.
General Motors, however, has seemingly taken notice of the incidents. The company recently reported its intentions to recall six of its models allegedly experiencing engine shutoffs.
The company mailed out a set of recalls to vehicle owners earlier this month.
Vehicle injuries, fatalities
Although many GM car owners can rest easy knowing that the problem is being addressed, but for some people, the recall is a little too late. Many drivers and passengers have already been injured in vehicle accidents as a result of the defective ignition switches.
When vehicle engines shut down, so do their power systems. Without power, drivers can no longer steer or operate the car's brake system. Air bags and other vehicle components that rely on electrical power to protect occupants also stop working. Without these, consumers are at a heightened risk of crashing and suffering serious injuries in an auto accident.
Various drivers who experienced engine shutoffs first-hand reported to the New York Times the scary nature of the incident.
"When the vehicle shuts down, it gives no warning," one Chevy Cobalt driver told the New York Times.
"Engine stops while driving - cannot steer nor brake so controlling the car to a safe stop is very dangerous," another driver reported.
Both of these drivers were fortunately able to walk away without injury, but one female driver of a 2005 Chevy Cobalt wasn't so lucky.
Her car crashed after she lost control of the vehicle after the engine shutoff. Sadly, the mother of the victim indicates that she made at least four separate complaints about her daughter's vehicle before the accident occurred.
To date, General Motors has reported over 1500 injuries and 78 deaths as a result of the alleged defective engine switches.
Fortunately, legal recourse if available for individuals who suffered injuries as a result of the ignition switch defect. Injured parties are encouraged to speak with an attorney knowledgeable in this area of law. A lawyer can offer advice about potential compensation and options available.