What Parents Need to Know about Car Seat Defects and Recalls

Automobile accidents are among the leading causes of injury and death to children in the United States. While it is true that no amount of preparation and safety features can prevent an accident from occurring, a defective safety device can result in injuries that could have been prevented. For parents, one of the most important safety devices provided to their children is an infant car seat. Fully functional infant car seats can significantly reduce the chance for injuries or death in the event of an automobile accident. Unfortunately, infant car seat defects can increase the chances to injury or death, rather than providing safety, and are a real risk on the roadway.

  • According to research, between 1998 and 2001, an estimated 10 million car seats were recalled.
  • An estimated 500 injuries have been reported among infants in car seats under recall status.
  • In 2003, more than 2,700 malfunction reports were provided to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

It is important to understand the serious risk of defective car seats, including understanding the various types of defect and danger. The most common car seat defects include:

  • Faulty Latches/Buckles: When car seat latches or buckles have too much give, or are too difficult to undo, the child is in danger of serious injuries, ejection, or difficulty being rescued.
  • Faulty Adjusters: Adjusters are designed to keep straps properly adjusted. If they are faulty, straps can become dangerous.
  • Flammable Materials: Low-quality materials can cause car seats to be flammable, placing the child at risk for burn injuries.
  • Weak Frames: When the frame of a car seat is weak or broken, it puts the child in danger because the seat cannot function properly.

Recent Recall Highlights Dangers of Infant Car Seat Defects

A recent massive recall of car seats by manufacturer Britax highlights the significance of the risk of defective seats. According to media reports, Britax has recalled over 200,000 car seats that are reportedly defective. It is reported that the harness adjuster button is susceptible to sticking, which can cause shoulder straps to spontaneously loosen. The recall came after Britax saw a customer’s report on Facebook, then finding several complaints filed with federal regulation agencies.

How to Check for Infant Car Seat Defects and Recalls

Consumers who register their car seat should be notified via U.S. Mail if a recall is issued on their product. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also provides information about recalls via email notification, mobile applications, and the website safecar.gov, where consumers can search for their particular car seat and view information.

Consumers who find that their infant car seat is defective or recalled should immediately discontinue use and contact the manufacturer for information about replacement or refund.