What Ford’s new technology, babies and boob jobs have in common
posted by: Amber Johnson
In March 1996 I was hit and run over by a semi-truck while driving on the freeway. I obviously survived. I should not have. My car was broadsided by the semi and after a deadly pinball machine game, I wound up splattered against the median. The semi’s tire tracks mere inches behind my seat.
An experience like that forever changes your perspective on car safety. I was fortunate to be wearing my seat belt, a fluke because I was a carefree college student who rarely wore one. I have no doubt it saved my life.
Since having children, I have researched the best car seats. I always have them professionally installed by the fire department after hearing staggering statistics that 80 percent are done incorrectly. But I have to be honest: I have never really considered how safe my car is. I drive an SUV that was built in the last five years. Price, reliability and consumer ratings were my utmost concerns when purchasing it. It has safety measures like airbags for the front seats but never once have I thought about the backseat, generally viewed as a safer place to be but without protective measures in place.
I was invited to attend a Ford safety event in Michigan last week. Even though I have worked with Ford in the past, I thought it was strange they would fly out a handful of perky mommy bloggers to a press conference that was dominated by brooding automotive journalists.
And yes, we did stand out just a wee bit.
Then Ford unveiled the auto industry’s first-ever inflatable seat belts, which are designed to enhance protection for rear-seat occupants in a crash (basically, a backseat version of airbags). This groundbreaking new technology will make them a champion among parents. The reason: Our children are often seated in the back and are the ones most vulnerable to head, chest and neck injuries.
The room was abuzz after the announcement. This technology has been in development for almost 10 years and these automotive dudes were excited. Ford had a sample inflatable seat belt and I gave it a try. The seat belt itself appears normal but its rounded edges are more comfortable than traditional ones. It inflated like an airbag upon impact and spread the crash forces over five times more area of the body than conventional seat belts, reducing pressure on the chest and helping control neck motion.
The moms banded together to pepper the safety technical leader, Srini Sundararajan, with questions. Yes, he said Ford had thoroughly tested it with all kinds of car and booster seats. Yes, they had experimented with it in a number of different positions, such as when children are slumped over sleeping or they twist the seat belt. No, it is not currently available but will launch on the 2011 Ford Explorer.
Then one of the moms hesitatingly whispered to me, “What about breast implants? How will it impact them?”
I brazenly stepped forward and asked this question of all questions. To his credit, Mr. Safety Man did not flinch and assured me the seat belts are perfectly safe for breast implants.
I can guarantee that question was never posed by any of those brooding automotive types.
In the end, I was given a greater appreciation for automotive technologies and the years of experimentation that are for our safety and benefit. I was especially impressed with Ford, which was the first company to develop and launch seat belts (1955) and airbags (1985). I later toured the safety lab and witnessed various Myth Busters-esque crash tests (and even performed one myself).
Anyone who has known me more than 10 minutes will find humor that I, of all people, was entrusted with such a responsibility.
And I’m also impressed with their latest technology:
Ford’s Rear Inflatable Seat Belts: Friends to Both Babies and Boob Jobs.
I think I may have clinched their next marketing campaign.