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NHTSA Fines Motorcycle Manufacturer for Failing to Follow Safety Recall Rules

Thousands of people die every year in motorcycle accidents. While driver negligence is the most frequent cause of a motorcycle wreck, it is important not to overlook potential safety defects in the vehicles themselves. One major U.S. motorcycle manufacturer recently paid a multi-million dollar fine after admitting it failed to follow federal rules in handling a safety-related recall last year.

Late Reporting, Inadequate Compliance

Triumph Motorcycles Ltd is the United Kingdom’s largest motorcycle manufacturer. Last September, Triumph issued a recall for over 1,300 motorcycles manufactured and sold in the United States. The recalled bikes, produced during 2012 and 2013, featured an automatic braking system. Triumph officials learned the four bolts that secured the braking system could loosen, causing the driver to lose steering ability and crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) oversees safety standards for motorcycles and other motor vehicles. The NHTSA requires all vehicle manufacturers notify “owners, purchasers, and dealers” in writing of a possible product defect. Additionally, the manufacturer must inform the NHTSA within “five working days” of the defect and any proposed notification letter. Failure to follow these rules may result in a civil penalty of $7,000 per violation.

In this case, the NHTSA determined Triumph failed to report its recall in a timely manner. Triumph acknowledged it first learned of the defective braking system in June 2013, three months before it informed the NHTSA. The company claimed it sent the NHTSA a report by email in June, but there was no record of the agency’s receipt. Furthermore, Triumph did not present the NHTSA with a draft of any recall letters, as required by the regulations.

The NHTSA also requires a manufacturer file quarterly reports on the progress of any safety-related recall. Triumph acknowledged it was late in making several of these reports. The company also admitted it “discovered deficiencies in the manner in which it collected” other safety data required by the NHTSA.

For all of these admitted violations, Triumph agreed to pay the NHTSA a fine of $1.4 million. The company will also owe another $1 million if it commits any future violations of recall reporting rules. Triumph must spend an additional $500,000 to improve its “processes and procedures for timely and accurate complying with reporting requirements [and] for timely making safety-related defect determinations to NHTSA.”

Have You Been Injured By a Defective Motorcycle?

The NHTSA’s reporting and oversight system does not cover any potential injury to a customer who may have used a defective motorcycle. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident and you believe a product defect may have been a contributing factor, it is important you seek advice from an experienced Tennessee personal injury attorney. The lawyers at Fox, Farley, Willis & Burnette in Clinton can assist you with all types of vehicle accident and product liability claims.

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