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NHTSA levies $30M penalty against DTNA

Jan. 4, 2021
After the federal agency found DTNA did not respond quickly enough to safety recalls, the OEM agreed to pay a $10 million fine, spend $5 million on safety data analytics upgrades, and improve its training. An additional $15 million fine was deferred.

Daimler Trucks North America must pay a $10 million civil penalty and spend $5 million to upgrade its safety data analytics infrastructure following an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The investigation, which opened in April 2018, found DTNA did not address seven recalls in a timely manner, according to NHTSA.

NHTSA deferred an additional $15 million fine, which would be payable if DTNA violates the consent order it agreed to.

“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,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens in a statement.

The defects ranged from brake lights not activating due to a faulty brake light pressure switch (NHTSA Recall 17V-761) to clogged or inoperable Kidde fire extinguishers on Thomas Built buses (18V-083).

To rectify its reporting oversights, the Portland, Ore.-based truck manufacturer will use the $5 million to create advanced data analytics infrastructure to detect and investigate potential safety issues and enhance its IT systems to better collect safety information from its business units, which include Freightliner and Western Star. DTNA will also assess how machine learning, predictive analytics, and sensing methodologies could be implemented to identify defect trends.

DTNA was also ordered to within 90 days create written procedures and training materials to identify safety defects and properly report them in a timely manner, as well as hold employee training on the reporting changes.

“In this case, 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 vehicle," DTNA said in a statement.

The consent order is set to last two years, though NHTSA has the option to extend it by another year if DTNA does not perform to the expectations set forth by the consent order.

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