NHTSA Gives Honda Until December 15 To Turn Over All Communications About Takata Airbag Defect, Recalls

Federal regulators have increased their scrutiny over Honda’s actions related to the millions of vehicles recalled because of Takata airbag defects. Two days after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it would look into Honda’s reporting process, the regulators have asked the car maker to submit even more documentation including all communications the company had with the airbag supplier.

The Detroit Free Press reports that NHTSA issued a special 15-page order giving Honda until December 15 to hand over all documents and communications related to Takata airbag inflators and recalls of vehicles equipped with the safety products.

Additionally NHTSA asked that Honda produce all internal communications about its recall of the 5 million vehicles for Takata airbag issues.

“We are compelling Honda to produce documents and answer questions under oath relevant to our ongoing investigation into defective air bags made by Takata,” David Friedman, NHTSA’s deputy administrator, said in a statement. “We expect Honda’s full cooperation as we work to keep the American public safe.”

Officials with Honda say they have had regular communications with regulators regarding the special order and will continue to cooperate with NHTSA’s investigation. The company previously announced it would perform a third-party audit over possible inaccuracies in its reporting procedure.

The special order comes just two days after NHTSA launched an investigation into whether Honda’s process for reporting deaths and injuries related to possible defects was occurring in a timely manner.

According to that notice [PDF], NHTSA 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.

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.

In all, a total of 10 different manufacturers have recalled more than 7.8 million vehicles with Takata air bags purchased in high humidity states that can rupture if moisture degrades the inflation systems.

NHTSA issues 2nd order for Honda recall documents [Detroit Free Press]