LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Toyota Motor Company has been hit with a record fine by the government for delayed safety reports, announced Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The company has agreed to pay $17.35 million in civil penalties, a maximum fine allowed under law, for again failing to quickly report problems to federal regulators and delaying a safety recall.

“Safety is our highest priority,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. “I expect Toyota to rigorously reinforce its commitment to adhering to United States safety regulations.”

This is the fourth fine against Toyota in that past two years for similar infractions.

Auto manufacturers are required under federal law to notify NHTSA within five business days of determining a defect exists and subsequently conduct a recall.

“It’s critical to the safety of the driving public that manufacturers report safety defects in a timely manner,” NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said. “Every moment of delay has the potential to lead to deaths or injuries on our nation’s highways.”

The automaker paid $48.8 million in civil penalties in 2010 as a result of three investigations regarding the company’s handling of auto recalls.


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