Toyota Motor Corp is being forced to pay fines of $17.35 million due to the automakers failure to report safety defects to the federal government in a timely manner, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

According to a press release issued by the NHTSA, the multi-million dollar penalty is the maximum fine permitted by law and is reportedly the single highest fine ever paid to the NHTSA for violations as the result of a recall. "Safety is our highest priority," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "With today’s announcement, I expect Toyota to rigorously reinforce its commitment to adhering to United States safety regulations."

Federal law mandates that all safety defects be reported within five business days. "It's critical to the safety of the driving public that manufacturers report safety defects in a timely manner," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "Every moment of delay has the potential to lead to deaths or injuries on our nation’s highways."

None of the vehicles associated with safety recalls and this penalty were manufactured at the Toyota manufacturing plant in Princeton, Indiana.

[NHTSA]