Safety Advocates Lobby to Fine Honda Over Airbag Recalls

By Jacob Brown | December 06, 2011
Honda has acknowledged that airbags in its early 2000s vehicles may be defective, forcing a recall of 2.7 million vehicles. But if that’s not enough, now a safety group wants Honda fined for the speed—or supposed lack thereof—in which Honda acted. Sending a letter to the National Highway Traffic Satiety Administration this week, the Center for Auto Safety asked that a penalty be waged on the automaker “for failing to initiate a timely recall of defective driver airbag inflators that rupture and send shrapnel into the driver.” This comes after Honda’s Dec. 1 decision to expand its airbag recall to cover more vehicles. “When Honda identifies concerns of this nature, nothing is more important to the company than fulfilling our obligation and responsibility to alert our customers,” Honda issued in a statement. That opened up a fix for an additional 876,000 vehicles than it had recalled earlier, now including the 2001-02 Honda Accord, 2001-03 Civic, 2001-03 Odyssey, 2002-03 CR-V, 2003 Pilot, and 2002-03 Acura 3.2 TL and 2003 3.2 CL vehicles. It’s the fifth airbag-related recall Honda has had since 2008. Last Friday, Honda spokesperson Chris Martin told The Detroit News that the latest recall came as a result of an accident in August in a vehicle that wasn’t part of the initial batch of cars. In it, an airbag did not deploy, causing injury to the driver. “Honda’s submissions to the NHTSA fail to disclose what it knew and when in dragging out the recall,” the Center for Auto Safety continued in its letter. Under its jurisdiction, the NHTSA has the ability to fine companies up to $17.35 million per untimely recall incident. During the Toyota unintended acceleration fiasco of 2010, the organization fined Toyota $48.8 million from three separate investigations. Honda’s airbags have been linked to 20 incidents where they didn’t function properly, including two deaths. In different situations, the airbags have both not deployed or deployed with enough force to cause injury. Honda’s Martin said that the company believes it has now recalled every Honda model potentially affected by the faulty airbags. Source: The Detroit News