The U.S. Department of Transportation is putting automakers on notice that the federal government is serious about holding manufacturers accountable if they don’t recall defective vehicles in a timely manner. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told reporters that he wants Congress to hike the maximum fine for recalcitrant automakers from $35 million to $300 million.
His announcement comes in the wake of the General Motors recall of 2.6 million vehicles with an ignition switch problem that may be linked to the deaths of over a dozen people. The auto giant has been accused of allegedly knowing about the problem for a decade but doing nothing to take steps to recall the affected vehicles until this year. The problem may still not have come to light had it not been for evidence presented in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a Georgia woman.
The maximum fine for untimely recalls was doubled in 2012 – from $17.5 million to $35 million. Foxx emphasized that the proposed hike in the maximum fine was meant to send auto makers the message that non-compliance would result in “more than a rounding error” and that the department “wants to make sure there’s an ability to make it count and ensure there’s enough of an affect across the industry.”