Daimler to pay $30 million after feds say they were too slow to recall trucks

Daimler Trucks North America LLC will pay a multi-million dollar civil penalty after federal authorities accused the company of failing to issue vehicle recalls in a timely fashion.

On December 31, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that truck maker Daimler entered into a consent order and agreed to pay $30 million after federal investigators found that the company did not act quickly enough to issue vehicles recalls related to safety defects.

The NHTSA launched an investigation in 2018 into the scope and speediness of Daimler vehicle recalls involving approximately 464,000 vehicles.

In addition to the $30 million civil penalty, Daimler has also agreed to make several changes to its safety and reporting practices.

“The company will develop and implement an advanced data analytics program to enhance its ability to detect and to investigate potential safety defects. The company will also improve its IT systems to collect potential safety information from its business units more effectively, and to report that information accurately to NHTSA.The company will also develop written procedures and conduct training for its employees on the recall and reporting requirements of the Vehicle Safety Act, take actions to ensure that its reporting to NHTSA is complete, and meet regularly with NHTSA to discuss potential safety issues,” the NHTSA detailed in a news release.

“Safety is NHTSA’s top priority,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens.  “It’s critical that manufacturers appropriately recognize the urgency of their safety recall responsibilities and provide timely and candid information to the agency about all safety issues.

Daimler issued a statement on the recall investigation and civil penalty, noting that “though there are no known accidents or injuries associated with any of the voluntary recalls, we appreciate the opportunity to summarily resolve this matter and continue building safe, efficient and reliable commercial vehicles.”

Daimler Trucks North America’s consent order with NHTSA is for two years, which NHTSA may extend for an additional year if warranted.  The consent order requires the company to make an upfront payment of $10 million, to spend an additional $5 million on specific projects to enhance safety, and includes an additional $15 million deferred penalty that may become payable under specified circumstances.