After conducting the largest car seat recall in U.S. history, Graco Children's Products was hit with a $10 million penalty for not making a timely notification of a defect, the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on Friday.
The first $3 million is due right away, and Graco - a division of Newell Rubbermaid - has five years to pay the remaining $7 million unless the company spends that much on child safety improvements, the federal agency said.
The NHTSA announcement marks the final step of a probe launched in December into the timing of the recall, which involved more than 4 million convertible and booster seats with defective buckles and another 2 million rear facing infant seats.
Parents had long complained about problems with the buckles in the car seats, and ultimately the safety administration had to pressure Graco to conduct a recall, the NHTSA said.
"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 a statement.
Graco said that the company is ready to move forward and would invest in child safety initiatives.
"We have worked closely with NHTSA throughout this process and regret that we fell short of NHTSA's expectations for data collection and reporting procedures," Laurel Hurd, president of Graco Children's Products, said in a statement.
According to the NHTSA, Graco will try to devise ways to increase the percentage of car seats that get fixed in a recall. About 75 percent of recalled vehicles are repaired, compared to 40 percent of car seats, the agency said.
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