US regulators investigating Honda for failing to submit reports of deaths and injuries

DETROIT – Federal regulators are investigating whether Honda Motor Co. failed to report deaths and injuries that occurred in its vehicles.

Federal law requires automakers to report any claims they receive alleging that defective vehicles or parts caused a death or injury. They are required to submit those claims on a quarterly basis, along with consumer complaints, production information, warranty claims and other incidents.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday that Honda may have failed to report incidents related to Takata air bags as well as other defective parts. Honda has recalled more than 5 million vehicles in the U.S. since 2008 to fix a potentially fatal defect in air bags made by Japanese auto supplier Takata. The bags can rupture after a crash and injure occupants with shards of metal.

In a statement, Honda said it ordered a third-party audit of potential inaccuracies in its reporting of injuries and deaths in September and will soon share its findings with NHTSA. Honda said it last met with NHTSA to discuss the issue on Oct. 17.

Honda said it has not always provided verbal claims of deaths and injuries to the government because it understood that only written claims were required. But Honda said it began including verbal claims in its reports last month.

“Honda continues to co-operate with the NHTSA on this matter,” the automaker said in a statement.

NHTSA has ordered Honda to submit details about its reporting process as well as every death and injury claim known to the company since 2003, when the reporting requirements went into effect. Honda has until Nov. 24 to submit the materials or face fines of $7,000 per day, or up to $35 million.

Last Friday, NHTSA announced a $3.5 million civil penalty against Ferrari for failing to submit quarterly reports that included three death claims.