NATIONAL – The NHTSA will seek the maximum possible penalty from Toyota-over $16 million-in its faulty accelerator case generated significant coverage, with reports on all three network news broadcasts and heavy reporting in major papers, wire services, and news sites.
ABC World News reported that the government “accused Toyota of, in essence, a cover up, proposing to hit the company with a $16 million fine. The announcement said Toyota had five days to report problems with sticking gas pedals but instead waited months to take action.”
A former NHTSA administrator called the announcement a “black eye” for the automaker, and adds that Toyota was “blasted” “for knowingly hiding a dangerous defect. Toyota has been accused of failing to ‘take action to protect millions of drivers and their families.'”
According to the Washington Post, if the fine is approved, it would represent the largest financial penalty imposed by the U.S. government on an automaker. Furthermore, the fine could rise” should the government find other related violations on Toyota’s part. If the government’s ongoing investigation into runaway Toyotas turns up violations related to other defects, perhaps more fines may be on the horizon for Toyota.
Some have said, “accepting the fine could look like admission of guilt.” Therefore, Toyota faces a dilemma, accept a record $16.4 million fine or continue to fight at the cost of more bad publicity.