October 17, 2014

A national car watchdog group is blasting Honda's handling of known problems with airbags used inside its vehicles.

In a letter to the agency from the Center for Auto Safety (CAS), Executive Director Clarence Ditlow claims that Honda under-reported the number of deaths and serious injuries as a result of rupturing Takata airbags.

CAS claims that Honda is not reporting all death and injury claims as required by the Tread Act.

In 2000 Congress passed the Tread Act, which requires car manufacturers to provide Early Warning Reports. These reports consist of actual notices involving fatalities or serious injuries that are alleged or proven to have been caused by a possible car or equipment defect.

In his letter, Ditlow provides two examples of instances in which the drivers were either killed or severely injured when the driver airbag exploded, but neither were reported by Honda.

According to Auto News, Honda said in a statement that it did not include verbal claims of deaths or injuries in its reports to the NHTSA until last month.

Honda hired a third-party auditor to investigate whether the company underreported the data.

After an analysis of Early Warning Reports, Ditlow writes that CAS found that in 2013 General Motors reported 1,716 claims and Toyota reported 1,774 claims to the NHTSA. Honda only reported 28. For the first quarter of this year, General Motors has already reported 505 claims and Toyota reported 337, while Honda reported only 6.

CAS is requesting that the U.S. Justice Department open a criminal investigation against Honda.