— After pressure from the Center for Auto Safety and in the midst of a federal investigation, Honda has admitted it failed to report 1,729 injuries and deaths to U.S. safety regulators. The massive failures didn't occur over just a few months, or even a few years. Honda admits "data errors" and a "narrow interpretation" of the law occurred since 2003.
But hey, at least they stopped making the Prelude -- so that's something, right?
The NHTSA Investigation
On November 2, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into allegations that Honda was hiding death and injury reports.
While it's good NHTSA opened the investigation, why did it take 11 years to finally do so? The likely answer is twofold: The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) which kept pushing NHTSA to open an investigation, and exploding Takata air bags in Honda vehicles that started getting media attention.
NHTSA gave Honda until November 24 to submit documents related to early warning reports that all manufacturers of 5,000 or more light vehicles must submit quarterly to help the government track potential safety defects. CAS had claimed it was evident Honda had been holding back information about injuries and deaths in its warning reports. CAS was correct.
Concerns About Honda and Takata
NHTSA has also requested specific information from Honda about Takata-brand air bags, but so far all that's known is Honda failed to mention eight incidents of exploding Takata air bag inflators in its early warning reports. The ruptured inflators were related to one death and seven injuries.
From July 1, 2003, to June 30, 2014, Honda reported 1,144 death and injury claims. According to the Center for Auto Safety, the underreporting of 1,729 claims should warrant a $35 million penalty from NHTSA. CAS also wants the case referred to the U.S. Justice Department for criminal prosecution to find out if Honda intentionally concealed the reports.
"For eleven years, Honda massively violated the Tread Act by failing to report 1,729 death and injury claims. It strains credulity that a sophisticated company like Honda could make so many data entry errors, coding errors and narrow interpretations of what is a written claim like the lawsuit complaint in the death of Ashley Parham in Oklahoma on May 27, 2009." - Clarence Ditlow, The Center for Auto Safety