Graco Children’s products announced yesterday that it would recall 1.9 million infant car seats after a five-month battle with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The safety agency has long claimed that a faulty buckle could make it difficult to release a child from its seat in the event of an emergency.
The company maintained that the buckle that caused the original recall wouldn’t be necessary given a different design in the seats that were recalled yesterday. The NHTSA disagreed stating 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.”
Resistance to Graco’s infant seat recall
Graco countered by saying its infant seats’ buckles had far less risk of becoming gummed up with food and drink given the age and diet of the children using an infant seat. Finally, the company relented after further investigations showed that there was a “higher than typical level of difficulty” disengaging the buckle.
Infant-seat models covered by Tuesday’s recall include the SnugRide, SnugRide Classic Connect (including Classic Connect 30 and 35), SnugRide 30, SnugRide 35, SnugRide Click Connect 40 and Aprica A30.
Not recalling the infant seats in addition to the toddler seats recalled earlier in the year could have led to public hearings and a possible lawsuit despite the fact that no injuries have occurred from either of the seat classifications. That is unfortunately not a claim the company can make with regards to the roughly two million baby strollers it recalled in 2008 after four infants died of strangulation.
Replacement and Evenflo infant seats
Graco will be replacing the buckle in all of the seats free of charge to customers and speaking of the recall the company said that it “is in the best interest of consumers and underscores our shared commitment to child passenger safety.”
The Evenflo company also manufactured its car seats using the same buckle employed in the Graco models and recalled 1.4 million late last year. Evenflo along with Graco took issue with the order to recall its infant car seats and still hasn’t deemed it necessary. Evenflo declined to comment today when contacted about the Graco decision to recall its infant seats.