Spartan Motors and Forest River Fined by Dept of Transportation

Spartan Motors and Forest River Fined by Dept of Transportation
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Two heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers were found to be in violation of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and will be forced to pay millions in fines.

US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the punishments for Spartan Motors Inc. and Forest River Inc. on Thursday, indicating that the each company failed to launch timely safety defect recalls and failed to report critical data, such as technical service bulletins and Early Warning Report data, to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

"Safety is a critical shared responsibility, and when manufacturers fail to meet their responsibility, the Department will enforce the law," Foxx said in a written statement. "Today's action sends a message to these manufacturers and to others that withholding critical safety information is not an option."

Spartan Motors is a Michigan-based producer of specialty heavy-duty vehicle chassis, emergency-response vehicles and other products. Spartan admitted that it failed to report service bulletins to NHTSA as required by law and that Spartan did not launch three previously initiated safety recalls in a timely manner.

The company will pay a total civil penalty of $9 million. Spartan also agrees to undergo a third-party audit of its reporting practices and to develop a new reporting mechanism.

Forest River, an Indiana-based maker of recreational vehicles, acknowledged it failed to report early warning data and failed to launch two safety recalls in a timely fashion. Forest River will pay a $35 million civil penalty – the maximum amount that can be legally imposed -- including a $5 million cash penalty with $30 million deferred. The company also is required to retain an independent monitor to conduct periodic audits of the company's safety practices. Failure to resolve issues will result in portions of the deferred penalty coming due.

In the past 10 months, NHTSA has ramped up efforts to impose civil penalties against violators of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Significant penalties have been assessed to automakers such as Honda, Ferrari, Hyundai, and car seat maker Graco.