Recaro Child Safety Llc
3. “LATCH” refers to Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, an acronym developed by manufacturers and retailers to refer to the child restraint anchorage system required by FMVSS No. 225, “Child restraint anchorage systems,” for installation in motor vehicles. [Footnote not in text.]
In requiring the upper tether anchorage on vehicles and the tether strap on CRSs, NHTSA noted that, “Test data show that an attached tether substantially improves the ability of a child restraint to protect against head impacts in a crash.”  NHTSA does not agree with Recaro's assertion that the failure of the top tether demonstrates a design to allow tether breakage in order to mitigate crash forces and reduce the likelihood of injury to children. Rather, NHTSA believes that the total separation of the top tether, as seen in the Recaro compliance tests, demonstrates a failure of the load bearing element (top tether) to control forward motion of the dummy and, therefore, a liability in the child restraint that increases the potential for injury to children in real world crashes.
In summation, RECARO believes that the described noncompliance of its equipment is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety, and that its petition, to exempt from providing recall notification of noncompliance as required by 49 U.S.C. 30118 and remedying the recall noncompliance as required by 49 U.S.C. 30120 should be granted.
Summary of Recaro's Analysis and Arguments: RECARO explains that the noncompliance is that the RECARO ProSport child restraint system does not comply with the head excursion requirements of FMVSS 213 S126.96.36.199(a)(1) when subjected to the dynamic test requirements of FMVSS No. 213 S6.1.2(a)(1)(i)(D), using a six year old test dummy secured to the test bench by lower anchors and no tether.
929 registered owners responded to the survey by confirming that they installed the child restraint with lower LATCH anchors. Of those responding, 837 or 90.1% confirmed that the top tether was being used to install their ProSport when installing the child restraint with lower LATCH anchors. (RECARO included a copy of the survey details and results as part of its petition.) RECARO stated its belief that the survey is a statistically significant confirmation that a very small percentage of ProSport consumers are misusing the child restraint by not using the top tether when installing the child restraint with lower LATCH anchors and that the effectiveness of any noncompliance notification campaign will be minimal, given the historically low response rate to technical noncompliance notification campaigns of child restraints. For example, the survey results indicate that only those ProSport consumers not properly using the top tether when installing the child restraint with lower LATCH anchors are likely to respond to a noncompliance notification. Assuming a response rate of 10% by this group, only 400 of the estimated 4,000 consumers misusing the child restraint are likely to respond. This statistically insignificant response renders the technical noncompliance at issue inconsequential.
2. RECARO's petition, which was filed under 49 CFR Part 556, requests an agency decision to exempt RECARO as a motor vehicle equipment manufacturer from the notification and recall responsibilities of 49 CFR Part 573 for the affected motor vehicle equipment. However, a decision on this petition cannot relieve vehicle distributors and dealers of the prohibitions on the sale, offer for sale, introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of the noncompliant motor vehicle equipment under their control after RECARO notified them that the subject noncompliance existed.