NPR logo Honda Says It Failed To Report Over 1,700 Deaths And Injuries

Honda Says It Failed To Report Over 1,700 Deaths And Injuries

A man walks past a Honda model on display at Honda Motor Co. headquarters in Tokyo. The automaker admits that over the past decade, it didn't report more than 1,700 deaths and injuries tied to Honda vehicles. Honda is also reeling from millions of recalls linked to defective airbags. Koji Sasahara/AP hide caption

toggle caption Koji Sasahara/AP

A man walks past a Honda model on display at Honda Motor Co. headquarters in Tokyo. The automaker admits that over the past decade, it didn't report more than 1,700 deaths and injuries tied to Honda vehicles. Honda is also reeling from millions of recalls linked to defective airbags.

Koji Sasahara/AP

Honda Motor Co. said today that for years it failed to tell U.S. regulators about more than 1,700 injuries and deaths involving its cars. In an online statement on the issue, the company says it failed to properly report from 2003 to 2014, for a total of 1,729 "written claims or notices concerning injuries or deaths." Honda also admits that it underreported property damage claims and warranty claims.

Honda says there was a delay between when it found out about the underreporting and when it started to fully investigate the issue. A "Honda associate" first noticed the issue in 2011, and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration raised the issue with Honda in 2012, but a third-party audit didn't begin until September of this year.

Honda is blaming the failure on an error in its databases that caused reports entered without a date to be omitted. The company also says coding errors contributed to the problem, as well as an "overly narrow" definition of "written notice." Under a law called the TREAD Act, car companies have to report to the government any claims they receive alleging defective vehicles or parts that cause death or injury.

Bloomberg reports that Honda could face a fine of up to $35 million as a result of the underreporting, one of the biggest in history.

Honda has already been hurt by its association with Takata, the Japanese supplier under numerous investigations for defective airbags that could send metal shards flying when deployed. The defect has been linked to at least five deaths, and dozens of injuries. NPR's Sonari Glinton told our Newscast Unit that Honda has recalled more than 7.5 million cars since 2004 because of the Takata airbag defect.

Honda says it's taking a number of measures to prevent reporting errors in the future, including fixing computer programs that led to the errors and enhancing training and oversight. The NHTSA told Bloomberg News in a statement that it is continuing with an "ongoing investigation" into the issue.

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