World Traffic Safety Symposium Awards Volvo for Child Booster Cushion System
By Glady Reign

Volvo Cars’ new booster cushion system is the automaker’s gateway to get the World Traffic Safety Symposium awards. The new system from the automaker is engineered to help protect children who have outgrown their toddler seats.

At the 2007 World Traffic Safety Symposium, a panel of judges from the Dept. of Transportation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Automobile Association of America Foundation for Traffic Safety, the National Road Safety Foundation, and the New York Police Department Traffic Safety Division awarded Volvo the first prize in the Automotive Manufacturer category for this innovative safety feature. The award stands among three other safety acknowledgements: Public Service, Media Activity and Aftermarket Product Design.

The Swedish automaker has contributed several safety milestones in the industry including the Volvo brake caliper, seat belts, and airbags among many others. The latest, so far, is the booster cushion system which is a combination of the tougher side body structure, load limiting seat belts, inflatable curtain and other reliable parts to deliver a distinctive engineering solution that ensures safety and comfy travel experience. Volvo’s innovation is the world’s first two-step integrated booster cushion. This is why it deserves to receive a prestigious international commendation.

"Our goal is to help protect occupants. This award acknowledges our efforts to help protect our smallest passengers, our children," noted Thomas Broberg, the Senior Safety Advisor for the Volvo Car Corporation in Sweden. "This new seat, in conjunction with our refinements in side body structure and the inflatable curtain will have a significant reduction in child injuries."

The seat belt positioning is one of the essential considerations when ensuring safety of children of different heights. Several studies have shown that proper positioning with the use of a booster cushion helps lessen abdominal injuries caused by the child slipping under the seat belt. Field data in several studies supports these findings and stresses the significance of booster seats. Studies point out that the booster be designed to hold the belt snugly across the pelvis or thighs during a frontal impact.

The overall effectiveness of booster seats is estimated as 31 percent as compared to utilizing only a seat belt and as high as 75 percent as compared to no restraint at all. Getting all children of appropriate age and size to use booster cushion delivers a potentially noteworthy safety benefit.

According to a study carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 39.5 percent of the 664 children inspected in belt-positioning booster cushion were considered as critical misuse. The most common misuse was improper fitment of the shoulder belt followed by loose belt, improper fit of the lap belt and inappropriate age/fit.

"We took into account the child's physical size and weight, seat belt misuse, child physiology, along with redesigning our vehicle side body structure and side impact inflatable curtain to come up with this new integrated two-step booster seat," said Broberg. "There will be better fitment of our three-point seat belt, a wider age and weight range, and better attitude for the child who can now easily see outside with the added benefit of reducing driver distraction. Hopefully we will hear less often: 'Are we there yet?'"

Glady Reign is a 32 year old is a consultant for an automotive firm based in Detroit, Mi. she is a native of the motor city and grew up around cars hence her expertise in the automotive field.

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