The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced that Honda being issued a $70 million fine in association with its involvement in the Takata airbag recall. More specifically, the fine is from Honda underreporting the number of injuries and fatalities that resulted from the faulty airbags. It is the single biggest fine the government agency has ever issued to an automaker.
Of that amount, $35 million is for failing to report warranty issues and other claims of vehicle faults for the past 11 years. The other half of the money is for the failure to report the several hundred injuries and deaths that occurred during the same period of time.
As The New York Times reports, the fine Honda has been slapped with is double the one that General Motors received last year. It is a sign that the NHTSA is becoming less tolerant of automakers attempting to skirt safety laws and not report information as directed.
Honda claims that it used other avenues for reporting the vehicle issues to the government. Exactly how that was done has not been clear, but Honda has claimed that clerical errors are to blame for at least some of the underreporting issues. As a result, NHTSA is requesting all automakers perform internal audits so they do not face the same wrath. The New York Times has determined that Honda knew about the Takata airbag issues way back in 2004.
Things could get worse for Honda before they improve. So far, the Justice Department has not moved forward with pressing criminal charges, but that could change in the near future if an investigation is launched.
The Takata airbag problems has been especially troubling for Honda, which was affected on a larger scale than the numerous other automakers that have had to issue airbag recalls as well. Honda sales have even dipped as a result of the airbag safety issue and the considerable press it has been receiving.