Graco Children's Products has been in a battle with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTSHA) over the recall of its infant seats. In February, the company recalled 4.2 million toddler seats because the harness buckles could stick and be difficult to unlock. The NTSHA also wanted Graco to recall its infants seats because its buckles could get gummed up. The stuck buckles could make it hard to remove infants quickly, particularly in an emergency situation such as a car fire or car wreck.
Graco argued that infant seats are used differently, and in an emergency, an adult can remove the whole seat rather than using the buckle. However, parents had filed complaints with the agency and the company about the stuck buckles.
When Graco announced the initial recall in February, NHTSA sent the company a sternly worded letter questioning why the infant seats weren't included. The letter also accused the company of soft-pedaling the recall with "incomplete and misleading" documents that will be seen by consumers. The agency threatened civil penalties.
But Graco, a division of Atlanta-based Newell Rubbermaid Inc., told The Associated Press at the time that rear-facing infant seats weren't being recalled because infants don't get food or drinks on their seats.
So, the battle was on with Graco hoping to avoid the largest seat recall in history.
All that changed this week. Graco has announced that it will comply with the NTSHA's demands and is now recalling the additional 1.9 million infant car seats.
Graco has agreed to send replacement buckles to owners of infant seats upon request.
In a June 27 letter to NHTSA, however, Graco said that further investigation showed a "higher than typical level of difficulty" in unlatching the infant seat buckles.
The company says there have been no injuries reported because of the problem. Spokeswoman Ashley Mowrey said in a statement that Tuesday's move, which brings the recall to 6.1 million seats, comes after months of sharing data and research with NHTSA. The company said the recall "is in the best interest of consumers and underscores our shared commitment to child passenger safety."
The infant-seat models covered by the recall include:
- SnugRide Classic Connect (including Classic Connect 30 and 35)
- SnugRide 30
- SnugRide 35
- SnugRide Click Connect 40
- Aprica A30
Graco will replace the buckles for free. The company says owners can check to see if their seats are included by going to www.GracoBuckleRecall.com or by calling (877) 766-7470.
USA Today reports that only 10 percent of people respond to child products safety recalls. "The return rate of recalls is really abysmal," says Nancy Cowles, Kids In Danger's executive director. "The government makes announcements, but people don't hear about them or don't respond."
The Kid's Dr. has been following and reporting on the recall of Graco products because of the possibly dangerous situations that are associated with these toddler and infant products.
If you own a Graco toddler car seat or infant seat, be sure and check the model numbers to see if it is one of the recalled products. You'll be glad you did.
Sources: Tom Krishner, http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/graco-agrees-recall-infant-seats-24383544