American Honda admitted that it failed to report to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 1,729 incidents of deaths or injuries tied to potential safety defects in its vehicles since 2003. Eight of those incidents were linked to faulty Takata airbag inflators.
According to Honda, the reporting errors were due a series of data entry and computer programming errors, as well as an “overly narrow interpretation” of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act (TREAD Act).
The act requires carmakers to file quarterly reports to the NHTSA of all incidents of deaths or injuries possibly tied to safety defects in their vehicles. The TREAD Act also requires carmakers to report any customer injuries, lawsuits, warranty claims and complaints.
The violation would be one of the biggest in history and may cause Honda to pay $35 million in fines, former NHTSA administrator Joan Claybrook told Bloomberg. “It’s quite shocking Honda would behave this way,” Claybrook said.
Carmakers could be made to pay fines of $7,000 per violation per day for failure to abide by the TREAD Act.
If Honda’s admitted violations – covering a period between July 1, 2003, and June 30, 2014 -- average at least three days each, the carmaker’s actual penalty could top $35 million, which is the TREAD Act’s maximum civil penalty.
Kevin Vincent, NHTSA’s chief counsel, remarked that the agency is reviewing Honda’s report as part of a probe into its failure to report airbag related deaths and injuries on time.