By on November 25, 2014

honda-ridgeline-2006-001

Due to its narrow interpretation of the TREAD Act, Honda admitted to underreporting the number of claims linked to injuries and/or deaths caused by safety issues in its products since 2003.

Automotive News reports 1,729 claims — including eight related to the Takata airbag recall crisis — went unreported thanks to a combination of said interpretation and data entry and computer programming errors when a report was made.

The admission of guilt comes from a third-party investigation’s findings in September of this year, conducted after the Center for Auto Safety accused Honda of failing to report two Takata-related incidences of death and/or injury. The results were handed over to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in compliance with a special order regarding the lapse.

Honda is already making adjustments to its reporting system, adding oral and written claims to the standard reports, and will make changes to its organization methods and staffing. In the meantime, the automaker will likely face a fine of $35 million, as well as a $7,000/day fine for every day it was in violation of the TREAD Act since 2003, a fine that could exceed the NHTSA’s maximum.

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67 Comments on “Honda Admits Underreporting US Death, Injury Claims Since 2003...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Yep, Honda’s in deep poop

    … and so is that Ridgeline, ugh!

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    This looks really, really bad for Honda; as in Honda-san is rolling over in his grave bad.

    Honda is supposed to be waaaaay above the nasty business of gaming injury and fatality statistics, and is supposed to run a very customer-centered, ethical and very tight ship.

    Even if many executive heads roll over this, I think Honda has permanently damaged its goodwill, which is no small feat.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-X

      The Honda Mystique/Lie is now stretched so thin you can see through it. The mid-80s Accords, with their contaminated fuel systems due to rusting fuel filler pipes exposed in the wheel-well, gave me a preview of the Honda Lie. Oops, make that: The Arrogant-Honda Lie.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      What happened to Les Grossman? Did he go out for a Diet Coke? Went missing along with his G5?

    • 0 avatar

      “Honda is supposed to be waaaaay above the nasty business of gaming injury and fatality statistics, and is supposed to run a very customer-centered, ethical and very tight ship.”

      The key word being “supposed”, I suppose. From my perch (Brazil), I really don’t why anyone would believe that.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Waingrow

        Marcelo, maybe the view from Brazil is clearer than the one from the States. Why anyone expects much of anything other than self-serving from corporations that are not tightly regulated is beyond understanding. In the auto industry alone, the sleazy and often illegal practices have become standard operating procedure. Every day a new revelation. Ignition switches, cheaper airbag explosives, etc. Deadweight may be shocked, perhaps because of his kind heart. But even he must admit at this point that the foxes are in charge and making millions while they’re at it.

        • 0 avatar

          Oh I see that, and lets just say that when there was a strike at a Honda plant in India a manager was killed, I was not shocked (as I would be if it were for instance a Ford plant). Maybe Honda et al operate differently in the First World, but here, in the ROW, they really are the pits to work for (labor and management side). To be fair, it would seem Toyota is improving a bit here, but even so their declaration as to their responsibility for worker persecution during the military dictatorship here (if interested you can read my article on the Brazilian Truth Commission’s work here on TTAC) is quite enlightening to how many companies, especially Far East ones, work here, i.e., shrug off any responsibility and pretend to be above the fray.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        A friend who works for this state’s largest automotive lemon law firm deals with all of the major automakers on a regular basis. He’s said the same thing for years – Honda and Toyota are head-and-shoulders above the domestics and Europeans (the worst by far) when it comes to settling claims. They also have the lowest number of valid claims against their vehicles.

        The Germans – particularly VW – are the worst. GM and Ford fall in the middle.

        Obviously no company is perfect, but based on what I’ve seen with friends and family who drive the cars of other manufacturers, Honda still does a better job of standing behind their products.

    • 0 avatar
      VW16v

      Toyota, GM, and now Honda are all the same. It does not matter what auto maker or what country of that auto maker. Bottom line is the final moral value for all auto makers. For all the Honda worshipers, this is a slap in the face to there cloud they have been living in for the part 30 years. Glass transmissions, and blown cylinder banks were never recalled by Honda. Why people think they would put safety of money?

    • 0 avatar

      “will make changes to its organization methods and staffing”

      Sounds like execs will fire those reporting the numbers and replace them.

      If they do I hope they are excoriated by the media.

  • avatar

    Oh yes, computer programming error. Computers will kill the world. Not attitude, standard business practice and usual”narrow” interpretation done always in such a way as to benefit the company in lieu of everything else.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      A lawyer was behind your second point there. They didn’t make a move without some lawyer signing off that it was an OK interpretation.

      • 0 avatar

        Sure, doesn’t make it less cynical or common. Great thing about the jury system in the US is that you can’t hide behind a lawyer in court, if the jury chooses to see it differently.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I agree, it certainly took a lot of people to mess up the claims programming and handling, etc. Seems like some pretty bad misconduct.

          However, I don’t think car companies have to abide by standards for responsibility and protection of the public, like financial institutions do (fiduciary responsibility). That may change eventually.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    @deadweight…

    I have been wondering if this issue will cause any long term grief for Honda. This whole deal reeks of malfeasance and clearly multiple heads or at the very least pinky fingers should ‘roll’.

    But…I have many a friend who drive a Honda and when I ask them about their Accord or Odyssey and if they are concerned about the recall etc, not one has a clue what I am talking about.

    If this were GM this issue would be getting way more sensational exposure than what it appears to be receiving.

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    Pftt.. pile on. Mere frothing on car guy sites.

    If the public hasn’t abandoned GM, do you think Honda’s clientele will take sudden umbrage? You don’t lose 30+ years of goodwill that easily.

  • avatar
    djsyndrome

    Some folks really /do/ have a short-term memory.

    http://www.amazon.com/Arrogance-Accords-Inside-Story-Scandal/dp/0965776611

  • avatar
    calgarytek

    Sad to hear about Honda’s troubles.
    Will continue to consider Honda’s as worthwhile investments.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    When GM was in all the news over the ignition recall and related deaths, as bad as it was, I always took the position that there isn’t an automaker out there that is not killing people and 1) keeping skeletons in their closet in terms of the cause, 2) failing to recall due to cost vs. probable related deaths, 3) failing to disclose all necessary facts pursuant to law. The only difference being, that GM got caught, just like Toyota got called out for the untended acceleration issues.

    Thank you Honda for validating my point in so timely a manner. I am not a GM or Import fanboy, but a realist. This is big business, this is what big business does. Insert your favorite automaker here.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    Does anyone have any statistics on death rates due to auto makers lying about safety issues to save money? We know that Toyota, GM, and now Honda would be at the top of those percentiles. Tim Cain needs to make a new pie chart of death rates due to safety issues.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      I don’t mean to belittle anyone’s death, but if you added up all the deaths from Takata, GM ignition and Toyota accelerator pedals, they would be dwarfed by the tens of thousands of annual deaths that we accept as the normal risks of driving.

      It’s easy to blame the big bad corporations, and their evil profit motive. But then you grow up, start working for one of them, and find out they are full of people just trying to do a solid job and get home in time to put dinner on the table and help the kids with their homework.

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        It’s easy to act like sheep and not keep corporations accountable. If this was Ford or GM many of you would singing a different toon.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          I am not arguing that corporations should not be held accountable. But based on the article itself, I read that Honda had been interpreting their obligations narrowly. But given the industry-wide considerations caused by the Takata recall, Honda decided to now come forward to “do the right thing” taking a broader view of the law.

          Also, when you become a sophomore, you will learn that a tune is a song, while a toon is short for the cartoons you so often watch.

        • 0 avatar
          87 Morgan

          Yes, they would while frothing at the mouth.

          But, it’s Honda, so this must be a computer glitch. Of course it is.

  • avatar
    calgarytek

    “The reporting errors were caused by a series of data entry and computer programming errors, plus an “overly narrow interpretation” of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act, Honda said.”

    Damn, it takes balls to admit a huge mistake. But it’s the first step towards fixing the problem.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      If they admitted that the “overly narrow” interpretation of the TREAD Act was a mistake in that it was calculated to save the company expense and give them a false safety halo, then I would say it took balls.

      But Honda’s response was basically “OHHHHH…. my bad, you wanted to know about THOOOOSE auto related deaths….ge wiz, if only our $hitty computers would stop hiding this information.”

      That response takes zero balls and in fact hides balls over in the corner somewhere to avoid getting them kicked, punched or even grazed.

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        ‘But Honda’s response was basically “OHHHHH…. my bad, you wanted to know about THOOOOSE auto related deaths….ge wiz, if only our $hitty computers would stop hiding this information.” ‘

        Yep, the old IRS defense….

  • avatar
    mikey

    @ calgarytek….The spin doctors working for Honda will certainly be pleased with your comment.
    Somebody actually bought into their line of B.S.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    The general lack of outrage and the ignoring of the parallels between GM, Toyota, and Honda management is certainly not lost on me.

    Systematic culture of, ehem, “plausible deniability,” by executive leaders? Check.

    Culture of hiding data by middle managers, suppressing engineers and bean counter driven decision making? Check.

    Way too cozy with the NHTSA? Check.

    Government “regulators” dragging their feet when the mountain of evidence was right in front of them? Check.

    Press chasing the bright shiny object dujour driving their various agendas depending on the publication and who their advertisers are? Check.

    People have died because of corporate negligence, bean counters, and executives who apparently know nothing. Check.

    Trial lawyers getting rich on class action suits while the victims get actually nothing? Check (and coming soon with Honda)

    The problem if people would open their eyes beyond their own biases is not Toyota, or General Motors, or Honda. The problem is systematic within the auto industry. I suspect there is more we don’t know about from other makers and if anyone ever really turned on the metaphorical light in the kitchen, we would see a terrifying number of corporate roaches scatter.

    WE KNOW NOTHING!

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Waingrow

      agree, agree, agree. In fact, superimpose your excellent critique on many other industries and you’d likely find things comparably troubling. The drug companies are maybe where I’d start.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes Mr. APaGttH. It’s illuminating how some can get so flustered about reality. Like in my little piece on FCA and their continuing reliability improvements and some of the real world difficulties encountered. I had to laugh as it was evident some didn’t know what I talked went on and that the same did not go on in their favorite company.

      The more the world turns the more it stays the same. The real miracle is that most of this products work quite well, most of the time even.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @Marcelo..Jeff…and APaGttH…. You guys have nailed it. I remember the outrage with the the Dope Smokers from the Jeep plant. I just had to laugh, because I knew for a fact, that the same thing went on everyday at the Honda plant.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          That happens at all plants. Early on I was a assembly line supervisor where we kept reducing the lunch hour, finally down to 10 minutes to keep the workers from getting too wasted so that they could go home with the same number of fingers that they came to work with

          • 0 avatar
            mikey

            The same truckers, come from the same suppliers, and deliver to all the plants. With the trailers lined up at the docks, it was a great place to spark one up. Out of sight, out of the wind.

            The drivers would do their walk around, and place the wheel chocks. They would tell me no matter what plant they were at. The dope smokers were always there. Just a fact of life.

          • 0 avatar
            319583076

            Death is certain – when, where, and how are not.

            That is life!

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            There are times that I’m almost certain of the ” when, where, and how” because I already know the “why” of someone’s pending demise ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      It’s often been repeated that you never really want to know how sausages are made. I suspect a similar idiom applies to the business of automobiles, also.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    And next week, it will be Fiatsler.

    BTSR: “Nuh-Uh!!!!!”

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      Chrysler is already under fire for not “fixing” enough Jeeps with a new trailer hitch for the fuel tank fires.

      What I don’t get it that Honda pays $35 million for not reporting out on an MVSS item correctly, yet Hyundai/KIA paid $300 million, plus reimburse customers for fuel economy claims?

      • 0 avatar

        SC5Door.

        Honda are being fined for not reporting all deaths related to the claymore mines. This fine is not for any liability regarding those deaths which will no doubt occur. I’m sure the lawyers are licking their chops now more accurate numbers are known. I’m sure there will be other fines for other infractions. This is the tip of the iceberg.

        With Hyundai/Kia you are looking at the whole iceberg.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    Honda lied..oh the horror.

  • avatar
    mike978

    Where are CJ or BS when you want them?

  • avatar
    KindaFondaHonda

    Did I buy a Honda because I thought the company was “above” everyone else?

    Uh… Nope. Just liked the car better than the others.

    Do I think people should never buy a GM car because they are a corrupt company?

    Nope. Buy what you want. I won’t cuz I don’t like the feel of their cars. Period.

    I would be willing to bet money that people on this site who are actually employed, work for a company that has done improper, illegal things at any given point in their existence. Should you quit in protest?

    Nope. Do what you want. Might all be unemployed if that was the case.

    Just stop feigning fake outrage at Honda.

  • avatar
    Loser

    jimmyy should be along shortly to twist this into another UAW/Obama conspiracy.

  • avatar
    DearS

    Fudge, I was so proud of the company behind my Accord. I still am, just more for a much smaller portion of the company and its ethics. I’m disappointed in the auto industry, consumers/the nation, and a little on myself as well. This is BS! I was eager to believe I was better than the rest. I apologize!

    Both we consumers and the producers are responsible for this crazy BS, with injured people left in the wake!

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I’m sorry, but I don’t see how the average consumer is responsible for this malfeasance.

      If all of the car companies were concerned about their customers and reputations, not just their reputation alone, would *they* sell any cars that were truly unsafe?

      If we the consumer, had some of the inside information that others do, would we buy *any* car that wasn’t totally safe?

      All this really proves is that there is very little to differentiate the automakers these days.

  • avatar

    May be dangerous but it is still Honda.

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