Honda has been fined $70 million (£46 million) for failing to report deaths and injuries involving its cars due to errors in its SQL database.
The US authorities found that Honda had failed to report 1,729 deaths and injuries between 2003 and 2014. These figures are required from every carmaker and are crucial to spotting patterns that may suggest defects in certain models – potentially saving lives.
The carmaker will pay two $35 million (£23 million) fines for both a failure to report deaths and injuries as well as warranty claims.
The reporting tool is a computerised case management system called an ‘Early Warning Reporting’ system, based on SQL, the carmaker disclosed in documents filed to US authorities.
Any injury or death involving a Honda car or motorcycle across the world is pooled to this central system using codes – provided the model is similar to one sold in the US.
For instance, if a customer complains of an injury or crash, it will be reported in the Customer Relationship Management system, and relevant reports sent to its legal database. Both of these are pooled into the EWR alongside car production details from the relevant factories.
However, the system failed as employees were unaware of how the codes worked, meaning allegations were not mapped and eliminated from a final report.
‘IT staff did not understand coding’
Thomas M Klein, partner at Bowman and Brooke who reviewed the case concluded: “Historically there has been no single person at Honda who is responsible for understanding how data is gathered and reported for Transport Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act (TREAD). The Product Regulatory Office (PRO) is responsible for TREAD reporting, but PRO relied on the completeness and accuracy of data coming to them from approximately eight different sources, including the HNA Law Department.
“PRO did not know how claims were entered in the HNA Law Departments case management system. The IT staff did not know that having general headings in the allegations map as ‘null’ or ‘0’ meant that some not-in-suit matters were not being reported. The people using the HNA Law Department’s case management system did not know that if they ‘written data received’ field was blank, then factual information for that matter was not transmitted to the PRO.”
Honda said it had begun to reconfigure the database and retrain data entry staff.