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NHTSA Fines Triumph Motorcycles $2.9 Million For Safety-Related Violations

Guy driving motorcycle

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) imposed penalties adding up to $2.9 million in fines on Triumph Motorcycles for failing to comply with the Safety Act and to properly respond to the NHTSA’s requests for information. The penalties stem from the motorcycle manufacturer’s September 2014 recall of over 1,300 motorcycles for a manufacturing defect that could reduce the steering capability of the bikes and increase the risk of a crash.

Triumph had recalled 2012-2013 Street Triple R motorcycles manufactured between July 2012 and October 2013 that had been equipped with an anti-lock braking system. The specific safety issue was that, in the affected motorcycles, four bolts that secured two cable guides on either side of the headstock did not contain threadlock, meaning the bolts could potentially loosen, which would cause steering movement to become restricted, increasing the risk of a crash. Notably, Triumph UK had issued a recall of the motorcycles in June 2013, but the American recall was not made until 15 months later in September 2014.

Following the recall of the motorcycles, the NHTSA opened an investigation into the manufacturer to determine whether it had acted in a timely manner in reporting the safety defect, and whether it committed other violations, including, “failure to submit quarterly reports on recall completion dates; failure to supply copies of technical service bulletins; and failure to file early warning data reports on death and injury claims, warranty data and other information.”

As a result of the NHTSA investigation, Triumph admitted that it violated the Safety Act by failing to file certain quarterly reports in a timely manner, and by failing to provide the agency with the required data reports. The manufacturer also admitted it did not properly respond to the NHTSA’s investigation. For these violations, the NHTSA ordered the manufacturer to pay a $1.4 million fine as well as $500,000 in fines for failing to properly respond to the investigation. The company will also have to hire an independent consultant to audit the company’s safety practices, and work with a compliance officer to ensure that safety, training, and reporting obligations are met. An additional $1 million fine levied against Triumph may become due if Triumph violates the order against it or if additional violations emerge.

Triumph Motorcycles is the largest British Manufacturer of motorcycles and was established in 1984 when the name rights for “Triumph” were purchased from Triumph Engineering, which had been manufacturing motorcycles in the United Kingdom since 1902 until its bankruptcy in 1983. The Triumph brand of motorcycles achieved popularity in the United States due to its connection with celebrities such as Steve McQueen, Elvis Presley, and James Dean. Triumph appears to have weathered the storm of the safety recall, as 2014 was its best year for sales in the United States in 30 years, and it is currently the top selling European brand of motorcycles in the U.S.

Motorcyclists depend on their bikes to be manufactured safely and on the manufacturers to take proper precautions and notify them when indications of manufacturing or design defects are discovered. If you have suffered injury due to a manufacturing issue with a motorcycle, contact personal injury attorney William Weiss today at 415-362-6765.

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