Among the deluge of auto industry recalls last year was children's car-seat maker Graco, which issued a safety campaign to fix 6.1 million units of its products for buckles that were too difficult to unlatch. This was the largest program of the type in US history. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched a probe into the company in December 2014 to decide whether there had been any delay in the announcement. That investigation is now over, and the US Department of Transportation is fining Graco $10 million for "failing to launch timely recall of defective seats." Also, under a consent order, the business admits not disclosing the problem to NHTSA soon enough.
Under its punishment, Graco will be forced to pay $3 million immediately to the US Treasury and will spend $7 million over the next five years to improve child safety. Those steps can include strategies like finding ways to get more people to register their car seats, identifying safety trends in the industry and launching an awareness campaign. Regardless, this investment must be certified by a third-party or Graco is required to "pay the balance of the $10 million civil penalty," according to NHTSA.
"Parents need to know that the seats they trust to protect their children are safe, and that when there's a problem, the manufacturer will meet its obligations to fix the defect quickly," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in the fine's announcement.
The defective latches were blamed for at least one death when a two-year-old in California couldn't be removed when a car was on fire. There were also over 6,100 complaints registered against the products. Unfortunately, NHTSA estimates that only 40 percent of faulty car seats get repaired.