Parents of young children have so many safety issues to worry about already, and now here’s one more — your child’s car seat may be unreasonably difficult to unbuckle in an emergency.
Seat-maker Graco Children’s Products is recalling almost 3.8 million car seats because faulty buckles can make it hard to free the child in an emergency.
Details were provided in an article in the New York Times. Parents should read the entire article. Here are excerpts:
Federal safety regulators said the recall, the largest in five years, did not go far enough, and have asked for an additional 1.8 million seats to be included because they use the same buckles.
In an unusual move, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told Graco in a letter that unless those additional seats were fixed it would take legal action to force a recall.
The seats in the recall are the 2009 to 2013 model years of the Cozy Cline, Comfort Sport, Classic Ride 50, My Ride 65, My Ride with Safety Surround, My Ride 70, Size 4 Me 70, Smartseat, Nautilus, Nautilus Elite and Argos 70.
Graco told regulators that the problems with the buckles stemmed from contamination with “foreign material such as food or dried liquids.” But investigators dismissed that explanation, saying that buckles getting dirty with food and drink was “completely foreseeable,” and not an excuse.
In a statement Tuesday, Graco maintained that the problem with the buckles “does not in any way affect the performance of the car seat or the effectiveness of the buckle to restrain the child. And a car seat is always the safest way to transport your child.”
Here is additional information from the American Association for Justice news release:
NHTSA probing Graco child seat buckle recall.
USA Today reports that NHTSA has issued a special order to child seat manufacturer Graco inquiring as to why the company “decided to exclude seven infant seat models from its recall of 3.8 million child seats last month.” Graco had suggested that accumulated food and dried liquids in a car seat can make the harness buckles “progressively more difficult to open,” thereby “making it difficult to remove the child from the seat.” The order is described as asking Graco for “a trove of other related information.”
The Elkhart (IN) Truth notes that last month’s recall came at the behest of NHTSA indications that the seats “could pose a safety hazard because the buckles can be difficult to open.” NHTSA allegedly “dismissed” Graco’s attribution of the problem to food and dried liquids, responding that it is “‘completely foreseeable’ that such items will contaminate a child car seat.” NHTS documents show that Graco had received over 6,000 consumer complaints, while two lawsuits are currently pending against the company over the issue. The “Signature,” “QT,” and “QT3” models from years 2009-2013 are included in the recall.