Honda underreported deaths, injuries to feds – USA TODAY
Honda said Monday that a third-party audit showed that it failed to make required reports to federal regulators of 1,729 written claims or notices concerning injuries or deaths in its cars over the past 11 years.
The audit found the automaker failed to file more than half of the so-called “Early Warning Reports” that it should have submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration under the TREAD act that took effect in 2003. The government uses the EWR data, which also included required reporting by automakers of warranty and property damage claims, to spot safety defect trends that can lead to recalls.
Honda says it found out that it hadn’t been properly reporting its cases as a result of the audit. The underreporting, it says, was due to data and coding errors and also an overly narrow interpretation by Honda of what qualified as a written complaint that must be reported.
Honda says the reporting shortcomings, however, are a separate situation from the current case of defective Takata air bag inflators that are believed to be at fault in at least three deaths. It says that the audit total includes eight Takata air bag failures involving one death and seven injuries, but that NHTSA already was informed of these incidents through other channels.
Honda is one of 10 automakers with U.S. recalls related to the inflators, but it is the one with by far the most vehicles affected and has been at the center of the controversy. Last week, its executives went before a Senate committee to testify.
The automaker, thus, is under scrutiny and the audit revealing the reporting shortcomings won’t help matters.
“It strains credulity that a sophisticated company like Honda could make so many data-entry errors, coding errors and narrow interpretations of what’s a written claim,” said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, in a statement.
Honda says it reported 1,144 cases during the period. It says it didn’t notice something was wrong with its reporting until 2011, when an employee reported a discrepancy that was believed to affect the count.
But Honda says it failed to follow up and the issue didn’t resurface until the following year, when NHTSA asked about the accuracy of its reports.