WASHINGTON - (AP) - The government said Monday that Toyota hasagreed to pay a record $16.4 million fine for failing to properlynotify federal authorities about a dangerous pedal defect.

The fine is the largest-ever penalty paid by an automaker to theU.S. government. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that byfailing to report safety problems, Toyota put consumers at risk.

The penalty is connected to a January recall of 2.3 millionvehicles with sticking accelerator pedals. The government saysToyota knew about the problem in late September and failed toreport the defect within five business days, as required by law.

Toyota said in a statement that it agreed to the penalty "toavoid a protracted dispute and possible litigation," allowing itto move forward.

The company denied the government's allegation that it violatedthe law, saying it "did not try to hide a defect to avoid dealingwith a safety problem."