Regulators Investigating Honda Over Inaccuracies In Reporting Injury And Death Claims

Less than two weeks after Honda announced it would begin a third-party audit of potential inaccuracies in providing valuable information regarding death and injury claims to U.S. regulators, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened its own investigation into the car company’s reporting procedures.

According to a notice [PDF] from NHTSA, the agency received information indicating that Honda failed to report incidents involving Takata airbags, which resulted in death or injury.

Under the TREAD Act all manufacturers of 5,000 or more light vehicles must submit Early Warning Reports (EWR) to NHTSA on a quarterly basis. The EWRs must include information on each and every incident involving death or injury that is identified in a claim against the manufacture or a notice received by the manufacturer alleging or proving that the death or injury was caused by a possible defect.

As part of the agency’s investigation, Honda must submit documents outlining its reporting procedures, and to identify any deaths or injuries blamed on Takata airbags that the automaker failed to report to regulators under the TREAD Act.

NHTSA officials are currently investigating the Takata airbags, which it says may deploy with too much force, causing metal fragments to kill or injure vehicle occupants. Since 2008, 16 million vehicles with the airbags have been recalled globally, nearly 6 million by Honda.

In mid-October it was revealed that three U.S. fatalities related to the Takata airbag defect occurred in Honda and its Acura-branded vehicles.

At the time, consumer safety group, Center for Auto Safety, accused Honda of failing to submit vital information in EWRs.

The group said the company’s inaccuracies, specifically concerning defective Takata-produced airbags, have hampered regulators ability to spot safety defects, which in turn can leave potentially dangerous vehicles on the roadways.

At the time Honda officials said the inaccuracies likely stem from the company’s choice to not include verbal reports of injury or death claims. The company says the omission is not against the law.

Honda only reported 28 injury-and-death claims to NHTSA last year, far below other manufacturer levels of claims. General Motors reported 1,716, while Toyota was responsible for 1,774.

Officials with NHTSA’s Office of Defect Investigations (ODI) say they are concerned that Honda’s reporting failures go beyond the Takata airbags.

“NHTSA has received information from Honda indicating that Honda may have failed to meet its TREAD reporting obligations, including reporting other death or injury incidents,” officials with ODI say in the notice.

As for Honda, the company tells The New York Times in a statement that it would soon share the findings from its third-party audit with NHTSA.

Additionally, the automaker seemed to deny NHTSA’s accusations, saying that it had maintained a dialogue with safety investigators and provided descriptions of the nature of injuries and other circumstances relating to safety incidents.

Investigation of Honda Centers on Failure to Report Deaths From Takata Airbags [The New York Times]

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