6 Million Graco Car Seats Recalled only after Pressured by NHTSA
The buckles on over 6 million Graco care sears are possibly defective. They can stick or become stuck in the latched position, making it difficult or impossible for a parent to get a child out of the restraints quickly. This could prevent someone from getting a child out of a vehicle after an accident, a necessity in situations where the child is critically injured and where vehicle might explode.
Only after continued pressure from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) did Graco recall the car seats, and they did it in bits and pieces, until over 6 million defective car seats were recalled, the largest child seat recall in U.S. history, according to NHTSA. Car seats sold from 2005 through 2014 are part of the recall (see recall details below).
Parents put their trust in Graco when they use a Graco brand car seat to protect their children. That trust may have been misplaced.
Did Graco Delay Notifying NHTSA of the Defective Car Seat Buckle?
If Graco delayed notifying NHTSA, it broke the law. Under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, a manufacturer has 5 days to notify NHTSA of a safety-related defect once the company knows about it or has enough information that is should reasonably know about it. This is the law, and a manufacturer who violated this law can be fined up to $35 million in civil penalties.
When a company drags its corporate feet to delay a recall, it is putting children at risk of serious injury and wrongful death. Even if a company is later fined for illegal behavior, it does not undo the harm caused by the delay.
NHTSA is trying to put more bite into the law. In its our-year reauthorization bill – the GROW AMERICA Act – NHTSA proposes to increase the fines from $35 million to $300 million. Our best guess is that the fines will not increase, at least not to $300 million. We would like to be proved wrong, though.
Graco Car Seat Recalls
The defect makes it very difficult to unlatching the harness buckle. There were 192 complaints, including situations where parents had to cut the harness to remove their children.
The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened this investigation as PE12-031 on October 15, 2012 to investigate
harness buckles in car seats produced by Graco Children’s Products, Inc. (Graco). During the investigation ODI
discovered that Graco used three different harness buckle designs in the manufacture of certain booster, convertible,
and rear facing infant (RFI) car seats produced between 2005 and 2014. The three buckle designs are identified as
the “Signature”, “QT”, and “QT3” which were all manufactured by AmSafe Commercial Products, Inc. All three
buckles use unique internal latch components and operate differently, and all have different release button designs.
On February 7, 2014, Graco Children’s Products, Inc. (Graco) informed NHTSA that it would be recalling about 4 million model year 2009 through 2013 toddler and booster child restraints, models Cozy Cline, Comfort Sport, Classic Ride 50, My Ride 65, My Ride w/Safety Surround, My Ride 70, Size 4 Me 70, Smart Seat, Nautilus, Nautilus Elite, and Argos 70.
Expansion of First Recall
On March 7, 2014, Graco informed NHTSA it would be including an additional 403,222 seats in this recall, including certain model year 2006 through 2014: Argos 70 Elite, Ready Ride, Step 2, My Ride 65 with Safety Surround, My Size 70, Head Wise 70 with Safety Surround, Nautilus 3-in-1, Nautilus Plus, and Smart Seat with Safety Surround.
On June 30, 2014, Gracoinformed NHTSA it would be recalling about 1.9 million rear-facing child restraints manufactured between July 2010 and May 2013, models SnugRide, SnugRide Classic Connect (including Classic Connect 30 and 35), SnugRide 30, SnugRide 35, SnugRide Click Connect 40, and Aprica A30.
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