While $70 million is a drop in the bucket to Chrysler, the fact that the nation’s auto safety regulator fined them for failing to report safety information about crashes shows the need for the government to have stronger penalties for violations.
It also shows that while cars are safer than ever before, manufacturers still will cut corners or misrepresent safety records when it comes to their vehicles.
Because of the oversight, accidents in which people were killed and injured were not investigated by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Automakers are required to report information about accidents to NHTSA so that regulators and automakers can determine if a vehicle has a defect that needs to be repaired through a recall (via CNN).
The problem with Fiat Chrysler’s reporting first surfaced in late September, when the agency said it had discovered gaps that resulted in significantly under-reported “notices and claims of deaths, injuries and other [required] information.” It has been investigating those problems since then.
Fiat Chrysler denied it tried to hide the data about the accidents, saying the failure was due to a problem with coding data about accidents. Even if that is the case, that doesn’t mean it can’t be fined by the agency. Just over a year ago NHTSA hit Honda (HMC) with a $70 million fine as well, after it admitted that it failed to report 1,729 serious accidents over a 12-year period due to computer programming errors.
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