Markey, Blumenthal Applaud Fines for Honda Violations of Vehicle Safety Laws

In wake of GM and Takata recalls, Senators introduced legislation to increase transparency and earlier reporting of auto defects


Washington (January 8, 2015) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) released the following statement today after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced it is fining Honda $70 million for failing to report deaths, injuries, and warranty claims to the federal government through the Early Warning Reporting (EWR) system. In October 2014, the Senators wrote to NHTSA with serious concerns that NHTSA’s EWR system may not be fully complied with by auto manufacturers. The Senators revealed that Honda had apparently failed to comply with the EWR system by not submitting complete quarterly reports about accidents that may be due to a safety defect, with one example of a publically-known 2009 death of an Oklahoma teenager where an airbag exploded having gone unreported in the EWR system, according to an analysis done by the Center for Auto Safety and shared with Senator Markey’s staff.


“This fine is a warning signal to all auto companies that they should take their safety reporting system into the shop for a tune-up. Reforms are still urgently needed to hold car companies accountable and provide more information to the public so they can be protected from fatal vehicle defects.


“We need the reporting system that our auto safety watchdogs use to be fully transparent and accessible, and car companies held to the highest standards for their reporting and their accountability when they do not follow the law.


“While these are the maximum fines that NHTSA can levy, those amounts should be raised so that multi-billion dollar corporations don’t get away with the equivalent of a fiscal slap on the wrist when they hide or miss important safety information.


“We will continue to push NHTSA to protect the public from deadly defects, and thank them for holding Honda to account for their failure to follow the law.”


Last year, the Senators introduced the Early Warning Reporting System Improvement Act, which would require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration make the information it receives from auto manufacturers publicly available in a searchable, user-friendly format so that consumers and independent safety experts can evaluate potential safety defects themselves.