By Christopher Jensen
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating whether a manufacturer of child restraints failed to promptly carry out a recall and thus violated a federal safety regulation.
The investigation is aimed at Diono, formerly known as Sunshine Kids Juvenile. It is based in Sumner, Washington.
“Diono may have failed to timely report a noncompliance,” the agency said in a statement posted on its website.
Under federal regulations, once a manufacturer is aware of a safety problem it must – within five business days – inform N.H.T.S.A. of its plan for a recall or face a civil fine.
The action involves a recall last fall of almost 520,000 child restraints because they might not properly protect a child in a crash.
The agency says information provided by Diono shows it knew there was a problem in June after conducting its own crash tests as part of the company’s internal quality check. But it didn’t inform N.H.T.S.A. of the need for a recall until September.
A Diono spokeswoman couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. However, the company has said it is not aware of any injuries related to the recalled seats.
That problem is that a child using only the lap belt without the top tether “could be at increased risk of chest injury in an accident,” according to N.H.T.S.A. In addition “occupants over 65 pounds using the harness could be at increased risk of striking the vehicle interior during a crash.”
The agency said it is also concerned about whether Diono’s plan to fix the seats is adequate. It involves giving owners a “chest clip” and additional “energy absorbing pads” that the company says will remedy the defect.
The recalled models are the Radian R100; Radian R120; Radian RXT; Olympia; Pacifica and Rainier.