The federal government recently recalled about one million Evenflo Discovery child safety seats after it was proven that they could come apart in a side-impact crash. This decision was made even though there is no specific standard that specifies the level of protection a safety seat should provide to a child in a side crash. Because of this recall, some suggest that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration should reopen its investigation in 2004 regarding an earlier Discovery model that may have a very similar failing.
This investigation in 2004 concluded that eight infants died and twenty-three were injured in crashes after the car seat, the Discovery model 561, they were sitting in came apart. This problem is the same one that caused the recent recall to take place. After four months of investigating about 2.6 million car seats built from 1998-2004, however, the inquiry was ceased because investigators claimed they could not find a specific defect in the products and some of the crashes occurred at high speeds. Although the agency closed the case, they reserved the right to reopen it since there was no evidence that there was not a defect in the product. The agency has stated it has no intentions to reopen the case since the designs are so different.
Evenflo insists the seats investigated in 2004 are different from those recently recalled because those that were recently recalled have “additional load-bearing structure including reinforced and new buttressing ribs and thicker walls”. The company has disagreed with the opinion that these advances should have made the seat even stronger, stating an opinion cannot be drawn comparing the car seats’ safety capabilities since they are both unique in their own design.At the request of safety administration in the recent investigation, Evenflo has agreed to recall Discovery models 390, 391, 534 and 552, produced from April 2005 to January 29, 2008, though the company has not made a decision as to whether or not the units contain a safety-related defect.