Fiat Chrysler Failed To Report Deaths, Injuries Linked To Safety Issues: NHTSA
Government highway safety officials have announced that they are reviewing new problems with Fiat Chrysler’s vehicle defect reporting systems, after the agency discovered that the automaker has significantly underreported injuries, deaths, and other problems associated with their vehicles.
Under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, known as the TREAD Act, automobile manufacturers are required to document Early Warning Reporting (EWR) and notify the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) every three months about incidents that have resulted in injury, death, property damage, warranty claims or any mechanical defects discovered, regardless of whether any injury has occurred.
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.
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According to a statement by the NHTSA, Fiat Chrysler America’s Early Warning Reporting system has substantial problems, which may have resulted in a a substantial under-reporting of incidents in violation of the TREAD Act.
Due to the significant failure to meet the manufacturer’s safety obligations, NHTSA Administrator, Mark Rosekind, announced that the agency will be taking further action after gathering more information about the scope and cause of the reporting system failures.
In a statement issued last week, Chrysler responded to the NHTSA’s allegations and suggested that there may have been gaps in reporting while the company was the subject of a prior investigation stemming from problems with 23 separate Chrysler recalls.
Chrysler and NHTSA entered a consent order over the prior issues in July, 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.
The current investigation by the NHTSA could lead to further penalties and fines if Chrysler is found to have allowed gaps in their reporting systems. The NHTSA’s report did not indicate how many incidents had gone under-reported but pending the investigation, more vehicles could be recalled due to unknown defects.
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