Recaro Child Safety Llc
(A) Recaro believes that the FMVSS No. 213 test procedure “is a direct violation of the instructions and warnings included with each ProRIDE and Performance RIDE child restraint and would constitute a misuse of the child restraint by the consumer.” Petitioner refers to page 36 of the ProRIDE/Performance RIDE instruction manuals and states that Recaro designed and tested the ProRIDE/Performance RIDE child restraints “to meet FMVSS requirements when tested according to the instruction manual.” Recaro highlights a statement on page 36 that states: “Additionally, LATCH and top tether anchors are designed to a maximum limit which can vary by vehicle. Due to this variation, RECARO requires use of the vehicle seat belt for any child weighing more than 52 lbs (23.6 kg).”  Petitioner states that installation in accordance with the instruction manuals decreases the likelihood of top tether anchor failure from the vehicle. Recaro states that it has limited lower anchor and top tether use for the ProRIDE/Performance RIDE since the inception of the RIDE platform, and recently lowered the LATCH limit to 45 pounds from the previously stated 52 pounds to meet current FMVSS No. 213 requirements. Recaro also mentions that “NHTSA noted in its' [sic] 2012 FMVSS 213 Final Rule response, limitations were added to the lower anchors to `prevent lower LATCH anchor loads from exceeding their required strength level specified in FMVSS 225.' ” Recaro states that it “used this same rationale when they developed the RIDE platform in 2010 and concluded that a load limit of 52 pounds would be the safest for consumers.”
The damage to the child restraints in this case is unrelated to controlled breakage, of the RECARO restraint. For one thing, RECARO does not assert that the complete separation of the upper tether was a planned design feature of the child restraint. In addition, many other manufacturers have made use of controlled breakage techniques while still meeting all federal regulations. In this case, the failure of the top tether was not planned and its failure mode is not compliant with federal regulation. The consequences of unplanned, uncontrolled complete separation of a load bearing structural element are unknown and can be significantly dangerous if the failure leads to components becoming projectiles in the vehicle or if the failure induces a shock load to other load bearing structural elements.
Notice of receipt of the petition was published, with a 30-day public comment period, on November 21, 2014 in the Federal Register (79 FR 69551). Comments were received, from an individual, Sean Stewart, and from Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates). Both commenters opposed the petition. Mr. Stewart believes that child restraint manufacturers should be required to meet the applicable requirements in FMVSS No. 213 regardless of the manufacturer's instructions and warnings. Advocates believes that “the reasons provided by RECARO fail to justify determining that the non-compliance is inconsequential.” To view the petition, the comments, and all supporting documents, log onto the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) Web site at: http://www.regulations.gov/. Follow the online search instructions to locate docket number “NHTSA-2014-0109.”