Feds Fine Honda $70 Million For Over A Decade’s Worth Of Inaccurate Death And Injury Reports

The new year is off to a rough start for automaker Honda, as federal regulators announced today that the car company will be paying a record-setting $70 million fine for failing to report over 1700 injuries and deaths over a period of 11 years.

The Washington Post reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration make the news of the fines public today, and that Honda has already agreed to pay it.

The $70 million figure is made up of two $35 million fines. One is the maximum penalty for failure to report the deaths and injuries (calculated at $7000 per violation per day, which in this case would be well over $35m), and the other for failing to report warranty claims.

Since 2000, carmakers have been legally required to provide “early warning” information relating both to vehicle defects and also to deaths and injuries in their vehicles to NHTSA. But Honda’s numbers didn’t add up.

NHTSA began an audit of Honda’s reporting practices in November, after the Takata airbag recall and subsequent investigation revealed several unreported injuries and deaths in Honda vehicles.

Honda’s own audit blamed the under-reporting on “inadvertent data entry or computer programming errors,” finding that over 1100 injury claims (including eight involving Takata airbags) somehow weren’t reported between July, 2003 and June, 2014.

NHTSA, however, finds that Honda failed to report 1729 incidents during the 11-year period — a number more than 50% higher than the 1114 they did manage to report.

The fine is indeed to punish Honda, but also to send a strong message to other auto companies that they need to comply with the law. “Today’s 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,” NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind said. “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.”

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx echoed the sentiment, saying, “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.”

Federal regulators hit Honda with record $70M fine for unreported deaths, injuries [Washington Post]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.