USDOT Issues Consent Order and Fines of up to $1 Million to Ride the Ducks International

NHTSA found that a Ride the Ducks vehicle involved in a 2015 crash that killed five people had a front axle defect

USDOT Issues Consent Order and Fines of up to $1 Million to Ride the Ducks International
Image: Wikimedia Commons
December 12, 2016

The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a Consent Order to Ride the Ducks International, LLC.

NHTSA found Ride the Ducks to be in violation of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act and, under the terms of the Consent Order, the company has agreed to pay fines of up to $1 million. Five people were killed in 2015 when an amphibious tour vehicle was involved in a crash with a motor coach in Seattle, Washington.

"Companies have an obligation to understand their responsibilities under the law, especially when those laws are in place to protect the public's safety," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "This action shows that the Department of Transportation is always on the lookout to protect those who travel on our roads."

The Consent Order details Ride the Ducks' responsibilities to remedy its noncompliance with the Safety Act, including obtaining an outside consultant to advise the company on their legal responsibilities under the Safety Act and to bring the company into compliance with the requirements of the Safety Act. Ride the Ducks will pay $480,000 in civil penalties and spend $20,000 to ensure completion of the terms of the Consent Order.

NHTSA says that the company will owe up to another $500,000 if it further violates the Safety Act or the Consent Order.

"Whether in their own car or riding a tour vehicle, American motorists and passengers must be protected from dangerous mechanical defects," said NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind. "This Consent Order sends an important message that NHTSA will continue exercising its authority to protect the public's safety with all vehicle manufacturers."

A NHTSA investigation of the company found that the vehicle involved in the 2015 crash had been manufactured by Ride the Ducks using some donor parts from a military surplus vehicle. The vehicle had a front axle defect that had been noted in a bulletin from Ride the Ducks, but the company had not issued a motor vehicle safety recall. NHTSA established that Ride the Ducks is a manufacturer of motor vehicles under the Safety Act and was therefore in violation by not filing a defect information report and initiating a full recall in compliance with the law.

In compliance with the Consent Order, Ride the Ducks has now filed a defect information report with NHTSA.