The company only owes $500,000 to start but might need to pay the other half if there are further violations.
In the wake of a fatal crash in September 2015, Ride the Ducks International has agreed to a consent order with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that could result in up to $1 million in fines. The Feds found the company’s amphibious vehicles in violation of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act.
The settlement was prompted after one of Ride the Ducks’ Stretch Duck amphibious vehicles broke an axle and crashed into a tour bus on a bridge in Seattle, Washington. The incident killed five people and caused many injuries. The state eventually fined the company $308,000 for safety lapses, and the firm agreed to no longer use the model there, according to The Seattle Times. Truck Ducks, a different vehicle from the maker, remain in operation in the city.
Under the consent order with NHTSA, Ride the Ducks must pay $480,000 in civil penalties and $20,000 on completing the government’s safety requests, including hiring an consultant to bring the firm into compliance with the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Future violations could result in the company owing another $500,000 to the Feds.
While Ride the Ducks’ uses former military vehicles for the basis of its amphibious models, NHTSA still considers the firm an automaker. Therefore, the business needs to publicly file defect information and conduct the necessary recalls. The government agency found that the company sent a bulletin to licensors about an issue with the front axle but didn’t officially recall the components. According to The Seattle Times, Ride the Ducks of Seattle never made the repairs.
As part of the consent order, Ride the Ducks now issued a recall on the axle housing because of a potential for fracturing near the knuckle ball. Operators and licensors of the vehicles will strengthen the connection at this point.
Source: The Seattle Times, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
U.S. DOT Issues Consent Order and Fines up to $1 Million to Ride the Ducks International, LLC
Amphibious tour vehicle manufacturer must comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has entered into a Consent Order to Ride the Ducks International, LLC (RTDI). NHTSA had found RTDI to be in violation of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act and under this terms of this consent order the company has agreed to pay fines of up to $1 million. Five people were killed in 2015, when an amphibious tour vehicle was involved in a crash with a motor coach in Seattle, Washington.
“Companies have an obligation to understand their responsibilities under the law, especially when those laws are in place to protect the public’s safety,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This action shows that the Department of Transportation is always on the lookout to protect those who travel on our roads.”
The consent order details RTDI’s responsibilities to remedy it’s noncompliance with the Safety Act, including obtaining an outside consultant to advise the company on their legal responsibilities under the Safety Act and to bring the company into compliance with the requirements of the Safety Act. RTDI will pay $480,000 in civil penalties and spend $20,000 to ensure completion of the terms of the consent order. The company will owe up to another $500,000 if it further violates the Safety Act or the Consent Order.
“Whether in their own car or riding a tour vehicle, American motorists and passengers must be protected from dangerous mechanical defects,” said NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind. “This Consent Order sends an important message that NHTSA will continue exercising its authority to protect the public’s safety with all vehicle manufacturers.”
A NHTSA investigation of the company found the vehicle involved in the crash had been manufactured by RTDI using some donor parts from a military surplus vehicle. The vehicle had a front axle defect that had been noted in a bulletin from RTDI, but the company had not issued a motor vehicle safety recall. NHTSA established that RTDI is a manufacturer of motor vehicles under the Safety Act and was therefore in violation by not filing a defect information report and initiating a full recall in compliance with the law.
In compliance with the Consent Order, RTDI has now filed a defect information report with NHTSA.
RECALL Subject : Axle Housing may Fracture due to Fatigue
Report Receipt Date: NOV 29, 2016
NHTSA Campaign Number: 16V859000
Component(s): POWER TRAIN
Potential Number of Units Affected: 57
All Products Associated with this Recall
Vehicle Make Model Model Year(s)
RIDE THE DUCKS AMPHIBIOUS VEHICLE 1996-2005
2 Associated Documents
Manufacturer: Ride The Ducks International LLC
Ride the Ducks International LLC (RTDI) is recalling certain model year 1996-2005 "Stretch" Amphibious Passenger Vehicles. Due to excessive fatigue, the axle housing on the affected vehicles may fracture at the connection point between the knuckle ball and the housing, possibly resulting in a loss of vehicle control.
A loss of vehicle control can increase the risk of a crash.
RTDI will notify the company-owned operators and licensors and will strengthen the connection at the knuckle housing ball and the axle housing, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. RTDI customer service can be contacted at 1-417-266-7600.
Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.