Connect with us

Fresh World News

Most parents don’t install car seats correctly, so these 2 Toyota engineers took action

Most parents don't install car seats correctly, so these 2 Toyota engineers took action


Most parents don’t install car seats correctly, so these 2 Toyota engineers took action

Toyota engineer talks new child car seat app for SiennaJennifer Pelky, a Toyota principal engineer, talks about a new child car seat app.Toyota, Detroit Free PressAs families prepare to hit the road for Memorial Day weekend, safety experts warn parents to check car seats and booster seats to be certain they’re properly installed.An estimated half of all families get it wrong and, by some AAA estimates, as many as 75% of all children are sitting in car seats and/or booster seats installed improperly.”Parents are taking it upon themselves to become better educated and the car companies are making their vehicles easier to work with in terms of getting a seat properly installed,” said Gary Bubar, a traffic safety spokesman for the nonprofit American Automobile Association (AAA) of Michigan. “Now only half of car seats out there have something that is not correct. The biggest issue we see is having the child in the wrong seat — children who should still be in rear-facing convertible car seats or booster seats before using seat belts,” he said. “Don’t move them up the ladder before they’re ready.”Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages 1-13 and 37% of children killed in car crashes are unrestrained, according to AAA in 2020.The biggest problem is parental fear of having a child in too tight.”It has to be tight. If you can pinch the straps, if there’s extra material, it’s too loose,” Bubar said. “You want the child to be in solid and tight.”Another issue is parents feeling anxious about not being able to see their children in the rearview mirror, because they’re not facing forward, so parents are installing mirrors. This is highly discouraged because of crash dynamics.”Parents want to add extra mirrors or devices that have never been crash tested,” Bubar said. “We see a lot of additional stuff. We have no idea how that would fly around in the case of the crash. Bottom line, when it comes to child safety, there should be a restraint that fits your child that you can afford and use correctly every single time.”Meanwhile, Jennifer Pelky of Brighton, Michigan, realized that if she couldn’t figure out child seats, who could?Most ever: Lego World Map set boasts more than 11,000 piecesSave better, spend better:  Money tips and advice delivered right to your inbox. Sign up for free here”I’m an engineer. I work in safety yet I was struggling with this,” Pelky said. “When I was pregnant with my first child, I knew I had to get a car seat and I went to the baby store and realized there was a lot I didn’t know — how to install it or how to know I’d installed it correctly.” Pelky is also vice-chair elect of the National Child Passenger Safety Board and is a certified child passenger safety technician for Safe Kids Worldwide. Still, she shared her child seat frustration one day with colleague Lindsay Babian of Canton in the Toyota cafeteria at the research and development center in Saline.”The stars aligned,” Pelky said. “It was a natural partnership.”As things turned out, she ended up the team lead on the 2021 Toyota Sienna for interior safety, which includes seat strength, head impact testing, fuel tank fire resistance and seat belt fitting while Babian led the second-row seat design team.These Michigan mothers of little boys are principal engineers at Toyota North America who work at the research and development center near Saline, Michigan. While working remotely during COVID-19 with children falling asleep on their laps and couches, the women finalized an idea designed to help parents, and won an internal Shark Tank-style Toyota competition among 35,000 employees to bring the project to life: It is an app that provides step-by-step detail for installation in the Sienna.The obvious need for instruction is clear.”Most parents will be (falsely) convinced they’re doing it right. It’s staggering,” said Pelky, who also serves as vice chair of the National Child Passenger Safety Board. “Data supports this effort, when you look at child seats and statistics.”While most parents and caregivers are confident that they have correctly installed their child’s car seat, almost half or 46% have been installed incorrectly, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration news release in September. Child safety, including car seat installation, is one of the agency’s top priorities.The issue goes beyond just moms and dads to include aunts, uncles, grandparents and babysitters, Pelky said. “Being a parent played a role in this project, but this is really for anybody.”Babian said this is what happens when colleagues hang out at lunchtime.”Jen borrowed my vehicle and came back and explained that I put the car seat in wrong, in too tight,” Babian said. “She said it was damaging the plastic because the seat belt had been ratcheted too tight in an effort to make the kid-safe. If you bend the plastic, it can turn white and get weak. She said we needed to back it off a little. It’s a classic example of someone doing something they think is correct and it’s too much or too little, but done with the best of intentions.”The information was unsettling.”I wasn’t doing it right and that was scary,” Babian said. “Jen said, ‘It’s my dream to make a tool to help people understand.’ And I said I wanted to help.”They talked over the issue in July 2019 and submitted the same day to the Toyota Innovation Fair. The carmaker launched the app in February of this year.”It’s my hope, and Jen’s hope, that people have a tool that they have confidence in using, and their kids are safe,” Babian said. “Because as a parent and an automotive engineer, specializing in seats, I was positioned to understand complexity and importance of seating systems and their components.”Aside from being moms, Babian and Pelky have intensive design training.Babian, who has 13 years of seat design and evaluation experience, earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Kettering University and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan.Pelky, who earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan, is also a member of the Safe Kids Children in Autonomous Vehicles Consortium and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Children’s Restraint Standards Committee. While parents may search the internet for cues on car seat installation, Toyota wanted an official site to help people. Since the launch of this app, Toyota is planning more this year with its upcoming products. These are easy instruction that show parents where to put the seat belt, how to adjust hooks in the car and how to check for the proper fit.Child safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71% for infants and by 54% for toddlers, according to AAA. Design consultant Eric Noble, president of the CARLAB in Orange, California, said the worry and confusion about car seats is “depressingly consistent” as a concern among consumers and designers. It’s called a usability issue, meaning the task can’t be accomplished without specific instruction.”Some seats want to be forward facing, some need to be rear facing, some break apart  to become a booster, some are used as bassinets,” Noble said.He credited AAA as a leader in the area, and Toyota engineers for making inroads.”One carmaker can’t solve the complexity that exists but one carmaker can provide really simple easily accessible instructions specific to the vehicle a driver is in, in the form of an app,” Noble said.”The fact that women engineers have come up with this particular solution is a perfect example of why we need more women engineers and designers within our industry,” he said. Get helpFor help installing a car seat or making sure it’s installed properly, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a roster of certified technicians nationally who can provide help at no cost and sometimes virtually. Add your city and state or ZIP code at this website: or find a local AAA club here:

Source link

Continue Reading
You may also like...
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


To Top
error: Content is protected !!