NHTSA may seek second penalty against Toyota over problematic accelerator pedals

Toyota PriusAfter having recently settled a $16.375-million fine against Toyota on Monday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is now considering the imposition of a second fine against the company for concealing information about problematic accelerator pedals in nearly 2.3 million vehicles.

According to the federal safety regulators’ notification to Toyota, the company took a long time to report the defective accelerator pedals.

The second penalty will largely be based on documents that indicate the existence of two separate defects in the pedals of vehicles recalled in January. Furthermore, two investigations into a November recall – which involved floor mats that could trap the accelerator pedal - also could bring about additional fines.

In its notification letter, the NHTSA also accused Toyota of keeping its testing of the accelerator problem under wraps; as well as concealing from the regulators the changes that it made in overseas models last year, and acknowledging only the complaints from US owners.

Noting that “the gravity of Toyota’s apparent violations is severe and potentially life-threatening,” the NHTSA chief counsel, O. Kevin Vincent, said in the letter that Toyota had exposed “millions of American drivers, passengers and pedestrians to the dangers of driving with a sticking accelerator pedal;” and added: “There can be no reasonable dispute that Toyota's initiation of this recall was untimely.”