NHTSA Opens Investigation into Graco’s Handling of Largest Child Seat Recall in U.S. History

The agency will determine if Graco failed to report safety defect in a timely manner

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced that it opened an investigation into the timeliness of Graco Children’s Products, Inc.’s (Graco) reporting of a safety defect in child seats. The defect involves buckles of child and infant car seats that stick or become stuck in the latched position, creating an unreasonable risk to a child’s life in the event of an emergency.

Graco eventually recalled over six million defective car seats earlier this year after pressure from the NHTSA. That makes it the largest child seat recall in U.S. history.

“The Department is committed to ensuring that parents have peace of mind knowing that the car seat in which they are placing their child and their trust is safe and reliable,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Any delays by a manufacturer in meeting their obligations to report safety issues with the urgency they deserve, especially those that impact the well-being of our children, erodes that trust and is absolutely unacceptable.”

Under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, once a manufacturer knows or should reasonably know that an item of motor vehicle equipment, such as a car seat, contains a safety related defect, the manufacturer has a maximum of five business days to notify the agency. NHTSA’s investigation will evaluate the facts of the case to determine if Graco violated the law.

If NHTSA’s investigation finds that Graco was untimely in reporting the defect, the manufacturer could be fined up to $35 million in civil penalties. The Administration’s four-year reauthorization bill – the GROW AMERICA Act – proposes to increase the Congressionally-established cap on fines from $35 million to $300 million. The Department of Transportation transmitted the GROW AMERICA Act to Congress in spring 2014.

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