NHTSA Pushes Graco to Expand Car Seat Recall
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA has put added pressure on car seat manufacturer Graco to recall car seats the agency says are dangerous. According to the New York Times, NHTSA has asked its research center to conduct tests to see how much of a delay a defective buckle would create when freeing an infant from a car during an emergency.
Details of the Car Seat Controversy
Earlier this year, NHTSA investigated claims from parents that they had to cut the straps in order to free their children from car seats. The result was a recall affecting 4.2 million forward-facing car seats deemed to have malfunctioning buckles. An additional 1.8 million rear-facing car seats with the same buckle were not recalled, however.
Graco has insisted that a buckle malfunction is not a problem because rear-facing car seats can be detached from the base and removed from the vehicle in the event of an emergency. A statement from NHTSA says the safety agency, “believes that the hazards and risks involved in the delay of extricating a child from a rear-facing infant car seat in any emergency situation are significantly increased and rise to the level of unreasonable risk when the harness buckle is difficult to open or is stuck in a latched condition.”
NHTSA to Test Graco Car Seats
NHTSA researchers will conduct tests to determine how long it takes to remove rear-facing seats with and without a properly functioning buckle.
Models that will be tested include:
- Snugride 30
- Snugride 32
- Infant Safe Seat-Step 1
- Snugride 35
- Snugride Click Connect 40
The buckles in question were manufactured by AmSafe Commercial Products. According to Graco, the buckles can stick when food or drink are spilled on them.
In the past, Graco settled a wrongful death suit in California that involved the death of a child in 2011 after her mother had difficulty freeing her from the car seat. Details of the case are confidential.
NHTSA could take Graco to court if the manufacturer refuses to recall the additional seats.