NHTSA Imposes Civil Penalties for Violations

January 20, 2005

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently obtained civil penalties in 2004 totaling almost $10.2 million, the agency announced. The fines cover a variety of violations by manufacturers, equipment suppliers, registered importers and vehicle customizers.

Two manufacturers – Porsche and Ferrari – paid civil penalties totaling more than $9 million for reportedly failing to meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) limits.

General Motors paid a civil penalty of $1 million to settle charges that it reportedly failed to conduct a timely recall to correct a safety defect. The problem involved windshield wiper failure in 581,344 Trailblazers, Bravadas, Envoys and Isuzu Ascenders manufactured in 2002 and 2003.

NexL, a California company, agreed to pay a civil penalty of $100,000 for importing and selling motorcycle helmets that reportedly failed to meet U.S. Department of Transportation standards. The company also was charged with failing to conduct a timely recall.

Two vehicle customizing firms agreed to pay a total of $21,000 for removal of drivers’ side air bags. NHTSA charged both West Coast Customs of Inglewood, CA, and Unique Autosports of Uniondale, NY, with removal of air bags to install video monitors in the steering wheel. Federal law prohibits companies from removing mandated safety equipment.

G&K Automotive Conversion, a registered importer in California, agreed to pay $12,000 to settle allegations that it imported ineligible vehicles, submitted inaccurate certificates of conformity and improperly released vehicles for use on public roads.

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