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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
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Tell the Truth: Cover-Ups are Worse than the Crimes

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Auto manufacturers voluntarily initiate many recalls, while others are either influenced by NHTSA investigations or ordered by NHTSA via the courts. In any case, when a safety defect is discovered the manufacturer must notify NHTSA, vehicle owners, dealers, and distributors. They must also report vehicle-related deaths so NHTSA can track trends, detect safety problems and order recalls if necessary. The auto manufacturer is then required to remedy the problem at no charge to the vehicle owner. All these measures are designed to protect the driving public, but when auto makers fail to comply, it puts everyone at serious risk.

In the past several years, the NHTSA has fined Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, General Motors, Ford, and others for failing to follow the law. In January, regulators announced $70 million in fines against Honda over the car maker’s failure to report deaths, injuries and other information. Two months ago, Fiat Chrysler was fined $105 million for lapses in U.S. auto safety recalls. Now the automaker may face additional financial penalties for vastly under-reporting deaths and injuries associated with more than 11 million recalled vehicles.

While not considered a safety violation, Volkswagen has been in the news for its diesel lying scandal. The automaker has admitted that 11 million of its diesel vehicles worldwide were fitted with software that would make them appear cleaner than they were when tested. Once on the road, the cars would pump out as much as 40 times the allowed level of nitrogen oxides. Volkswagen has been ordered to recall the 500,000 cars in the U.S., and it has suspended sales. The company has already set aside $7.3 billion to cover recalls and other costs, but that figure likely to rise. Volkswagen could face up to $18 billion penalties.

One would think that if auto manufacturers would put safety over profits in the first place, that such penalties would send a strong message that deception and delays are unacceptable; that the price for engaging in such behavior is high. Yet, we continuously read and hear about this bad behavior.

This reminds me of the popular 1960s game show “To Tell the Truth”. The idea of the game was to stump a panel into thinking you were telling the truth. If you succeeded, you made a profit. Automakers have proven successful at their “game” of stumping not only NHTSA, but also the American people to believing its vehicles are safe.

In the wake of these series of reporting violations, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the time has come to take action. Foxx announced yesterday that he plans to call a meeting with all major auto manufacturers to address a long list of failures to meet reporting requirements. Let’s hope this meeting stops these “impostors” from repeating what they know we want to hear. If they were all truth tellers, we would all be much safer on our roadways.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.

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  1. Rita A Julio says:
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    I purchased a used Chevy HHR at well over the amount it should have cost. My daughter and I took it back the very next day not even twenty four hours later, I asked for my money back. I was told no.Now that I have had this car for two years I have been bombarded with recalls. My argument is yes I was shown the car fax, but it did not show the Recall for the ignition switch that was from 2008,I purchased this car in August of 2013. Sansone was the owner of the Vehicle at that time and should have taken care of the recall. I was stuck with the bill, for several other recalls, Chevy needs to reimburse me and many others for what they did. It seems replacing people on the assembly line with Robots only caused cars to be dangerous, a robot can not see a loose wire or missed solder.The Sansone in Avenel/Rahway saw an elderly woman coming and charged me for a BRAND NEW VEHICLE.I had asked several times for them to help me being I am seventy eight years old and afraid to drive a car that I paid 21,531 dollars for. Shame shame shame on SANSONE.