Ms. Amy Sanford
Recaro North America, Inc.
4120 Luella Lane
Auburn Hills, MI 48326
Dear Ms. Sanford:
This responds to your letter requesting an interpretation of S188.8.131.52 of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 213, Child Restraint Systems, with regard to an infant carrier that you would like to bring to the U.S. market. We regret to inform you that we cannot interpret the standard in the manner you suggest.
According to your letter, your infant seat incorporates an adjustable back rest with an integral harness. The child restraint enables the consumer to adjust (raise) the restraints shoulder harness by a lever mechanism to adjust to a growing child without having to remove the harness from the seat back. When the shoulder harness is raised by the lever, the infant seat back is also raised. When the seat back is adjusted to the lowest position, it has a height of 410 millimeters (mm). You state that when it is raised to the full up position, the seat back is at least 500 mm.
S5.2.1 of FMVSS No. 213 specifies requirements for the minimum head support surface for child restraints other than car beds. S184.108.40.206 requires each child restraint to provide restraint against rearward movement of the head of the child (rearward in relation to the child) by means of a continuous seat back of a specified height. For child restraints recommended by their manufacturer for use by children of not more than 18 kilograms (40 pounds), S220.127.116.11(a) specifies that the height of the portion of the seat back providing head restraint must not be less than 500 mm.
From the information you provided, it appears your restraint does not meet S18.104.22.168(a) of the standard. In the lowest adjustment position, the seat back height is 410 mm, which is less than the minimum height requirement of 500 mm. The requirement does not provide for adjustable seat backs. We note that your restraint requires action on the part of the consumer to raise the seat back height. There is a risk that consumers who neglect to raise the harness straps (and thus raise the seat back) or who attempt to raise the straps but do so incorrectly could use the child restraint with the seat back at the 410 mm height with older infants. In short, we cannot interpret S5.2.1 as permitting a seat back height of less than 500 mm.
I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions, please contact Deirdre Fujita of my staff at (202) 366-2992.
Anthony M. Cooke