Chrysler Crash Injury Reporting Failures Result in Additional $70M Fine

As a result of reporting problems, Fiat Chrysler America (FCA) has been ordered to pay an additional $70 million in fines following a federal investigations into the auto makers failure to properly report crashes involving serious injury and deaths since 2003. 

On December 10, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that it has brought additional civil penalties against Chrysler, after discovering more violations of the federal TREAD Act of 2000, which requires automakers to provide government highway safety officials with field reports of safety issues and injuries.

The newly imposed fine on Chrysler stems from a NHTSA investigation that was initiated after the automaker reportedly admitted in September that there were discrepancies in their Early Warning Report (EWR) data recording, which led to a significant under-reporting of deaths, injury claims, and consumer safety complaints.

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In addition, the NHTSA conducted a further investigation after Chrysler openly admitted in September that it failed over the last several years to provide Early Warning Report data to the agency as required by the TREAD Act of 2000.

The Early Warning Reporting data is collected by NHTSA to help identify trends and potential issues that may impact a large number of automobiles, allowing the agency to initiate recalls and remove dangerous designs and defects from vehicles to prevent further injury or death.

The NHTSA stated in their press release that the newly imposed civil penalties on Chrysler are a direct result of failing to comply with federally mandated reporting regulations that all automakers are required to follow.

The agency’s report indicates that Chrysler’s failure to comply stemmed from improper company reporting procedures. Chrysler is accused of having improper coding methods and failing to account for changes in brand names, which is what the automaker claims as the reason why the death and injury reports were missed in the EWR data.

“Accurate, early-warning reporting is a legal requirement, and it’s also part of a manufacturer’s obligation to protect the safety of the traveling public,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in the NHTSA press release. “We need FCA and other automakers to move toward a stronger, more proactive safety culture, and when they fall short, we will continue to exercise our enforcement authority to set them on the right path.”

Chrysler has agreed to the new civil penalty of $70 million and, in addition to paying the fine, has pledged to change procedures to ensure proper reporting, as well as commission a third-party audit to guarantee compliance with the law. The NHTSA announced that the auditors’ findings will be made public as problems are found and corrected.

To date, Chrysler has been fined $175 million in total since July, when the automaker was fined $105 million for failing to report injuries, deaths, and known safety defects of more than 11 million vehicles.

After an evaluation of 23 Chrysler recall campaigns involving more than 11 million vehicles, the auto maker was found guilty of violating rules regarding effective and timely recall remedies, notification to vehicle owners and dealers, and failing to report safety defects, injuries and hundreds of deaths.

Chrysler and NHTSA entered into a consent agreement, which resulted in a $70 million cash penalty and another $20 million the auto maker was required to spend on meeting performance requirements. The agreement also called for Chrysler to pay another $15 million if an independent monitor discovered more safety violations.

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