Honda has agreed to pay a record $70 million fine for failing to report over 1,700 deaths and injuries to consumers in its vehicles. Federal officials made clear that “The announcement sends a very clear message to the entire industry that manufacturers have responsibility for the complete and timely reporting of this critical safety information. The actions we are requiring will push Honda to significantly raise the bar on the effectiveness of its reporting program. Our ongoing oversight will ensure compliance and determine if there is cause for additional actions,” said Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
This record penalty shows that recalls and fines against the automobile industry will continue in 2015. Honda said the errors in reporting were due to “inadvertent data entry or computer programming errors,” received fines of $7,000 per day per violation, as well as the maximum civil penalty of $35 million for not reporting the injuries and deaths. Honda was also fined another $35 million for failing to report warranty claims. NHTSA is also asking that Congress increase the maximum fine per violation to $300 million.
The underreporting of the deaths and injuries were discovered during an audit demanded by NHTSA. The audit uncovered Honda’s failure to report 1,729 death and injury to consumers during 2003-2014. Automakers are required by law to report to NHTSA any occurrences of injuries and deaths due to defects in their vehicles in compliance with an October 2000 mandate from Congress.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has made it clear that the government is serious about safety. “Last year alone, we issued more fines than in NHTSA’s entire history. These fines reflect the tough stance we will take against those who violate the law and fail to do their part in the mission to keep Americans safe on the road.”
Fox also stated that the Justice Department is looking into whether to pursue criminal penalties against Honda.