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What Ford’s new technology, babies and boob jobs have in common

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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.

Until now.

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.

Amber Johnson
Author: Amber Johnson

Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas, travel writer and former columnist for The Denver Post. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.

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  • comment avatar Fabiola November 8, 2009

    Well, when this technology arrives down here for the popular cars (as the cheap cars are called), I can tell you, women will go for the boob job safety issue. After all, Brazil only looses to Venezuela when it comes to plastic surgery.


  • comment avatar Rosey Pollen November 8, 2009


    I also wonder about pregnant ladies wearing seatbelts, it always seemed very awkward. I never would have thought about implants and what the effects would be in a crash. I don’t have to worry about that, at least. You never fail to spin my brain.

  • comment avatar Amber's Crazy Bloggin' Canuck November 8, 2009

    LOL–in my defense, I wasn’t the one who thought of asking about implants. I was just relaying the message. 🙂

    Great question about pregnant ladies, too. But when it comes down to it–in a crash of such a magnitude that deploys airbags and inflatable seat belts, both mom and baby will be at risk, regardless. Just hope it never happens.

  • comment avatar Melissa @ Full Circle November 8, 2009

    YAY FORD! What an awesome, innovative idea!! Safety really never hit home until the twins came to live with us. Suddenly I had two 4 1/2 year olds riding in car seats and that put a whole new spin on things. Suddenly I was a worried mother hen..

    How clever of Ford to invite Mommy Bloggers to the event. I’m sure you all blended in with all the hard core automotive journalists..


  • comment avatar Amber Johnson November 8, 2009

    The other mommy bloggers wanted to sit in the front row of the press conference and I was the one front and center in front of the podium. I’m sure the news stations picked up on my blond Afro–something you don’t usually see at these events. 🙂

  • comment avatar Alison November 8, 2009

    In response to the pregnant belly Q — my OB was quite clear in explaining that the belt should be adjusted to be (a) below your belly for the lap part and (b) over your belly/through or under your breasts (depending on size/location). This is so no part of the belt actually crosses the pregnant part of your belly.

  • comment avatar Lori in Denver November 8, 2009

    What a brilliant and simple to the problem! And power to the mommybloggers that got invited to the button-down press conference.

    So glad you’re here to tell the tale, Amber.

  • comment avatar diana/sunshine November 8, 2009

    you crack me up. i bet you didn’t even hesitate to ask the question =)

  • comment avatar Amber's Crazy Bloggin' Canuck November 9, 2009

    Admittedly, I did not hesitate. After all, they weren’t my boobs in question. 🙂

  • comment avatar Lauren in GA November 9, 2009

    I read the link about the car accident…what an amazing story. I love how you both were laughing and deemed to be delirious.

    I like the new technology…not breat implant technology…the seat belt technology…

  • comment avatar MommyTime November 9, 2009

    Living in MI, it’s been all abuzz here with this announcement. Of course, living in MI, I am crushed that you were here within 25 miles of my house and I didn’t know it and didn’t get to have coffee with you. On the other hand, I’ve had the flu for the past week+, so if you were here any time in that time frame, you are incredibly glad that you didn’t know to email me ahead of time! 🙂

  • comment avatar Jamie November 9, 2009

    I can so picture you being the one to ask the “tough” questions!!!

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson November 9, 2009

    Just call me Barbara Walters. 🙂