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October 27, 2006

Portable Seatbelts For Children

School_busby Breanne Boyle
I love telling anecdotes in my Ask Patty posts. I hope you don’t mind reading about the randomness of my life and how it relates to automotive post fodder. So let me get into it again. I remember taking the bus to school every day from about age 7 to age 13. By the time I was 13 it was a bit degrading, but heck, it gave me time to read. I had the nickname “bookworm” for years after because of it. I mistakenly told my husband that name and he won’t let me forget it.

PoppleWhen we rode the bus there was always one or two seats (always in the back) that would be bouncier than others. We would clamber down the aisle to get to that extra bouncy seat so when we would go over speed bumps in our friends’ neighborhoods, we could boing boing up and down like little Popples (I’m a child of the 80s). Sometimes, like a trampoline, if you added force when you hit the seat again, you could fly up even higher the next time.

Little did we know that we were being incredibly unsafe, if not obviously dorky. It begs the question, Why aren’t there seatbelts in school and city buses? Shouldn’t we be concerned about roadway safety in those public vehicles as well as our own personal ones? Automotive.com touches on this ever-important issue of safety in their recent post. “Portable Seatbelt Approaches Reality,” which talks about a portable seatbelt for use in buses or any other transportation that doesn’t come equipped with safety restraints.

SeatbeltsAnne Schewe and the students of University of Massachusetts created the prototype, which right now weighs five pounds. They are planning to carve it down to a more manageable two pounds. Schewe lost her daughter to an accident while she was traveling on public transportation in India, and she was inspired to help save others. It’s a wonder why there aren’t mandatory seatbelts in all public vehicles, but maybe this will be a good start.

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