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In a sharp escalation of penalties against automakers that skirt safety laws, the nation’s top auto safety agency has fined Honda Motor a record $70 million for grossly underreporting fatal accidents and injuries to the government, regulators said on Thursday.

The penalty doubles a fine levied against General Motors last year as the agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, faces scrutiny for being slow to identify safety problems and failing to use the full extent of its legal powers.

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