American Honda Motor Co. belatedly reported that it failed to tell U.S. regulators about 1,729 claims of death or injury linked to possible safety defects in its vehicles since 2003. That's a lot to explain.
Honda blames data entry and programming errors, plus an "overly narrow interpretation" of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act.
It's another signal that U.S. auto regulatory and recall systems aren't working.
Like multiyear nondisclosures by General Motors, Toyota and others, it damages the credibility of both the industry and regulators. And it invites heavier federal intervention.
Automakers already have issued a record number of recalls this year as they rethink past practices.
The public may forgive this year, but future transgressions will be increasingly unacceptable -- and, if Congress gives regulators the power to levy larger fines, more expensive, too.
Now may be "last call" for companies to clean up their acts.