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Honda Admits Under-reporting Crash Deaths, Injuries

“We acknowledge the problem,” says senior executive.

by on Nov.25, 2014

Honda's safety problems mount.

The recall scandal continues to rock the auto industry with new and damaging revelations.

The latest company to have its reputation seriously smeared is Japanese automaker Honda, which admits it failed to file more than 1,700 accident reports with federal safety regulators as required by law.

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“At Honda, we acknowledge this problem as our management responsibility,” said Rick Schostek, executive vice president of Honda North America.

Honda is already facing problems related to its use of faulty Takata airbags now blamed for a number of deaths and injuries. The maker is the largest user of Takata airbags.

(Fiat Chrysler struggling to speed up Jeep recall. Click Here for more.)

Honda says it has found errors in the way it reported injuries and deaths to the government under the so-called TREAD act passed in 2003 in the wake of a series of major safety lapses. In all, Honda’s internal audit indicated 1,729 incidents were not properly filed and counted over the past decade.

The audit began in September after initial indications indicated the company was not properly alerting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about deaths and injuries that took place in Honda vehicles. Honda and other automakers have been under close scrutiny because of the worsening problem with Takata Corp. airbags.

Last month, NHTSA ordered a regional recall of 7.8 million vehicles equipped with the potentially faulty devices. The recall focused on Florida and other states with high humidity. In the wake of new deaths linked to the problem, the safety agency has now expanded the recall on a national basis.

(Takata claims no need for national recall for faulty airbags. For more, Click Here.)

Honda is not breaking out the number of deaths and the number of injuries uncovered by the audit. The 1,729 claims cover a period from July 1, 2003 to June 30 of this year.

During that period, Honda did file 1,144 reports with NHTSA.

Schostek identified several reasons for the errors, including data-entry mistakes and an overly narrow view of the reporting law. A Honda employee discovered a problem with accident reporting in 2011, but there was not adequate follow-up, Schostek said.

“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,” Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, said in a statement.

(Lawmakers may block re-registration of vehicles until they have recall repairs completed. Click Herefor more.)

Only a tiny share of these newly discovered reports are actually linked to the Takata airbags, according to Honda.

Nevertheless, Honda has been hit hard by the troubles at Takata, which supplies virtually all of Honda’s airbags. Up until recently, Honda’s management has been surprisingly tolerant of the shortcomings at the supplier – reflecting the fact Takata is a traditional member of the Honda keirestsu or family of companies. As a result, it has long been viewed by Honda’s senior management as part of extended enterprise that operates on trust and enduring ties.

However, the Honda-Takata ties have been tested by the airbag recalls, and Honda, which is concerned about the potential damage to its reputation, now apparently is starting to look for alternative sources of air bags.

It is unclear how NHTSA will respond to the latest revelations. The agency has become increasingly intolerant of industry safety lapses, levying fines against a number of makers, including Toyota, BMW and General Motors, for improper reporting under the TREAD Act.

(Paul A. Eisenstein contributed to this report.)

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One Response to “Honda Admits Under-reporting Crash Deaths, Injuries”

  1. Jorge says:

    I’m NOT defending Honda is ANY manner as it sounds like they may have been unscrupulous in regards to proper reporting. I will say however that IME dealing with many companies in the U.S. that data entry is so poor by so many as to be down right exasperating – even for critically important information. It’s a disgrace IMO that many people do not care and are not held accountable for blatant and chronic data entry errors. In addition management’s failure to hold people accountable for their lack of performance is equally troubling.