Honda Says It Underreported Serious Accidents
Honda Motor Co. said it failed to report 1,729 death and injury incidents to U.S. regulators in an 11-year period starting in 2003 as results of an internal audit exposed lapses in its ability to meet federal reporting requirements.
The figure more than doubles the actual number of deaths and injuries involving its vehicles, bringing the total during this period to more than 2,843—far more than the 1,114 it had initially reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the auto maker disclosed in a regulatory filing Monday.
In September, Honda commissioned third-party auditors to delve into “potential inaccuracies” in its internal tracking system for death and injuries, after it came to light that it was underreporting incidents to U.S. safety regulators.
Auto makers are required under the Tread Act to notify NHTSA of all deaths and injuries involving their vehicles as “early-warning reports.” The agency can fine car companies as much as $35 million for failing to report such incidents in a timely manner.
Honda’s findings were provided to NHTSA Monday in response to a federal special order, asking the Japanese auto maker to explain under oath the lapses in its reporting compliance. Of the underreported incidents, only eight were related to Takata Corp. air bag problems, including one death which it brought to NHTSA’s attention but failed to document in an early-warning report, Honda says.
“The audit identifies difficult facts about where we did not meet our obligations,” said Rick Schostek, an executive vice president at Honda North America. “At Honda, we acknowledge this problem as our management’s responsibility.”
Honda’s safety track-record has been in the spotlight lately amid news of its slow response to reports of exploding Takata Corp. air bags that date back to last decade. Honda’s vehicles have so far been linked to four deaths—all involving faulty Takata air bag inflaters.