When we buy a car seat for our children, we expect that it will be safe for use. However, car seats, like other products, can fail to meet our expectations and can present serious risks for children. Graco Children’s Products is recalling 3.8 million car seats “because faulty buckles can make it hard to free the child in an emergency,” according to a recent article in The New York Times. This is a serious safety issue for parents which could result in catastrophic injuries to a child. Will the recall take care of the problem before any injuries occur?
Federal safety regulators have actually indicated that the recall does not “go far enough.” Indeed, they have asked Graco to recall 1.8 million additional car seats, because they use the same buckles as the recalled seats. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has emphasized the severity of the situation. In a letter to Graco, NHTSA said it would “take legal action to force a recall” if the company did not recall the additional seats.
In 2012, parents told federal safety regulators that they did not believe the car seats were safe for use. Many said they had to “cut the straps to remove their children,” and one parent indicated that it took her 45 minutes to safely remove her child from the car seat.
Graco indicated that the problem occurs when the seat belt buckle is contaminated with food or drink, but safety investigators made clear that this is not an excuse, because “buckles getting dirty with food and drink was completely foreseeable.” While the buckle issue does not affect the seat’s effectiveness, it can prevent a parent from safely removing his or her child in case of a car accident or fire. In fact, a 2-year-old child recently died in a car fire while buckled into one of the recalled seats. Regulators have indicated that the recall “may expand well beyond Graco” in the coming weeks and months.
Child Car Safety
There are many child safety concerns when it comes to car seats. Do you have your child in the right car seat?
A primary safety issue is finding the right car seat for your child.
NHTSA offers three tips for finding the proper seat:
Make sure the car seat fits your child. Car seats will need to be replaced as children grow.
Ensure that the seat fits your vehicle. Parents often assume that all car seats fit all vehicles, but this is not the case. Test out the car seat you are going to purchase before using it as a safety seat for your child.
Only use a car seat that can be “used correctly every time.” Using a car seat improperly even once can lead to serious injuries.
Legal Recourse: What Can I Do If I Own a Recalled Model?
Has your child suffered injuries as a result of a Graco car seat? You may be able to file a claim for compensation, and should speak to a product liability lawyer immediately.
Consumers who own one of the recalled car seats should contact Graco immediately to report your issue and receive a new buckle.