Recaro Child Safety Llc
(D) Recaro states that it is aware that NHTSA has a clear precedent of denying child restraint manufacturers' petitions for inconsequential noncompliance concerning top tether separation. However, Recaro believes that “the environment in which those decisions were made has changed.” Recaro claims that the methodology it uses to limit top tether loads actually increases safe installations of child restraints by limiting the pounds of force applied and decreasing the chance tether anchor load failures. Recaro also believes that in the event of tether separation, the increase to risk of safety is non-existent because the head excursion limits were not exceeded in NHTSA's compliance tests. Petitioner indicates that the risk of the subject child restraints impacting objects in the vehicle is identical to, or better than, other compliant child restraints because both restraints meet the same head excursion requirements.
NHTSA concurs with Advocates' observation that the ripping out of the top tether on the Recaro CRSs was likely an unplanned, uncontrolled event, far from a sought-after engineering feat of child restraint technology.
NHTSA notes that the statutory provisions (49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 30120(h)) that permit manufacturers to file petitions for a determination of inconsequentiality allow NHTSA to exempt manufacturers only from the duties found in sections 30118 and 30120, respectively, to notify owners, purchasers, and dealers of a defect or noncompliance and to remedy the defect or noncompliance. Therefore, these provisions only apply to the subject 39,181  child restraint systems that RECARO no longer controlled at the time it determined that the noncompliance existed.
Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 30120(h) (see implementing rule at 49 CFR part 556), RECARO submitted a petition for an exemption from the notification and remedy requirements of 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301 on the basis that this noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety.
NHTSA'S Decision: In consideration of the foregoing, NHTSA has decided that the ProRIDE and Performance RIDE's noncompliance poses a risk to safety and is therefore not inconsequential. Recaro has not met its burden of persuasion that the FMVSS No. 213 noncompliance identified in Recaro's noncompliance information report is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. Accordingly, Recaro's petition is hereby denied and Recaro is obligated to provide notification of, and a remedy for, that noncompliance under 49 U.S.C. 30118 and 30120.
NHTSA has taken enforcement action for similar failures. In 2001, the agency notified Britax Child Safety, Inc., (Britax) of a potential noncompliance due to the detachment of a tether strap during dynamic testing of one of its child restraint models. Britax initiated a recall campaign to provide owners of the affected model with repair kits. In 2007, the agency notified Britax of a potential noncompliance due to the tether hook opening during dynamic testing of one of its child restraint models. Britax initiated a recall campaign to provide owners of the affected model with new tether hooks.
5. RECARO has implemented an engineering/structural modification to the ProSport. Dynamic tests of the modified ProSport using a Hybrid II six year old test dummy secured to the test bench using lower anchors and no tether confirm that the head excursion requirements of FMVSS No. 213 S220.127.116.11(a)(1) are met. (RECARO included copies of the test reports as part of its petition.)