Date
21 September 2017
Honda North America executive vice president Rick Schostek testifies on defective Takata airbags at a US Senate committee hearing. Photo: Reuters
Honda North America executive vice president Rick Schostek testifies on defective Takata airbags at a US Senate committee hearing. Photo: Reuters

Honda underreported serious accidents

Honda Motor Co. said it failed to report 1,729 incidents of death and injury to United States regulators for 11 years from 2003 after independent auditors reported “potential inaccuracies” in its internal tracking system.

The figure is more than double 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 (NHTSA) , the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing a regulatory filing.

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 US 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 US$35 million for failing to report such incidents in a timely manner.

Honda’s findings were provided to NHTSA Monday after federal authorities ordered 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 record has been in the spotlight lately amid news of its slow response to reports of exploding Takata air bags that date back to the past decade.

Honda’s vehicles have been linked to four deaths, all involving faulty Takata air bag inflaters.

The company is also facing numerous lawsuits involving occupants allegedly injured or killed by Takata air bags in Honda cars that ruptured during a crash and sent metal shrapnel flying into the passenger cabin, the report said.

NTHSA has identified about five million Honda and Acura vehicles affected by the Takata air bag problems.

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