Toyota has agreed to make a payment of $17.35 million to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This is “to settle claims related to the timeliness of its June 2012 recall to address the potential for accelerator pedal entrapment caused by unsecured or incompatible driver’s side floor mat in the 2010 Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h, without admitting to any violation of its obligations under the U.S. Safety Act.,” as a Toyota statement says.
Toyota keeps making contributions to NHTSA’s funding. In 2010, Toyota was fined three\ times the maximum penalty of 16 million for violations stemming from pedal entrapment, sticky pedal and steering relay rod recalls.
Federal law requires that auto manufacturers notify NHTSA within five business days of determining that a safety defect exists. Says the NHTSA:
“In early 2012, NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation began noticing a trend in floor mat pedal entrapment in 2010 Lexus RX 350s in Vehicle Owner Questionnaires (VOQs) and Early Warning Reporting data. In May, NHTSA contacted Toyota regarding the trend, and a month later Toyota advised NHTSA that it was aware of 63 alleged incidents of possible floor mat pedal entrapment in Model Year 2010 Lexus RX 350s since 2009. Toyota’s own technicians and dealer technicians reported that certain alleged incidents of unwanted acceleration had been caused by floor mat pedal entrapment.”
Next year, the maximum fine NHTSA can assess will double to $35 million. Lawmakers wanted to raise the maximum fine to $300 million at some point, but the matter got stuck in committee.