The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has imposed a fine of $70 million on Honda, accusing the automaker of failing to report more than 1,700 injury and death claims tied to their vehicles to the federal government. They are also accused of failing to submit early warning reports to identify any actual or potential safety issues with their vehicles. Furthermore, the Administration claims that Honda also did not fully report all customer satisfaction and warranty claims.
Honda issued a response acknowledging that they are aware of a number of shortcomings in complying with NHTSA standards. Although Congress has placed a cap of $40 million on NHTSA fines, Honda’s $70 million fine was accomplished by fining the automaker twice: once for the warranty claims and once for the injury and death claims.
But Honda will have to do much more than just pay this fine. They will have to train employees on a yearly basis and develop written procedures for complying with early-warning-reporting requirements. They will also be required to complete two third-party audits to ensure that they are fulfilling all reporting regulations.
The Center for Auto Safety was the first to alert the NHTSA of its suspicions that Honda was not reporting all injury and death claims filed against them. The organization shared these concerns in an open letter to the NHTSA, prompting their investigation. While they are pleased that the company is being held responsible, they maintain that $70 million is a very small price to pay considering the billions of dollars the automaker brings in every year. The Center for Auto Safety’s executive director hopes that Honda will also be criminally investigated by the Department of Justice, which has the power to impose far more substantial fines. This, he concludes, would be the type of punishment required to bring about the kind of real, positive change that keeps driver safety at the forefront of operations.
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