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Inventors Crowdsource Funds for Portable Seat Belts on Buses

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SafeHarness System

SafeHarness System.

A retired New York City fireman and the owner of an auto dismantling facility have created a portable seat belt designed for bus passengers, and are looking to raise money for their product via an Indiegogo campaign.

Blake McCauley, the retired fireman, says he was motivated to create such a product because of concern for his own daughter. He and Charles Bedell, his partner in Blanch Associates, designed the “SafeHarness System” to help ensure the safety of passengers on buses.

There is “an overwhelming need” for such protection, especially for children and people with special needs, Blanch Associates states on the company’s Indiegogo page. SafeHarness, to be made in America, is the first and only personal portable seatbelt, they say. explains the design:

It is easily installed on a motor coach seat by placing it over the seat back and sliding it down to the seat cushion. The individual then secures it in place by pulling on the belt which is kept taught because of a specially designed tensioning device. When installed correctly, the single strap design of the SafeHarness System takes the shape of a standard automotive grade lap belt and provides the passenger with a safety measure previously unavailable to them.

A unique feature of the SafeHarness System is the self tightening design that absorbs and attenuates the forward momentum of the occupant.

Blanch Associates patented this design and had it tested in frontal and rear-impact sled tests conducted by an accredited testing laboratory. It meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS-209).

Although federal regulations require all new buses to have seat belts beginning in 2017, the older buses will be on the roads for 10 or 15 more years, and they have no passenger seat belts, the partners say.

The SafeHarness system will protect children who ride on buses to after-school sporting events, day camp, on field trips, band or choir events, and more. It will also protect special-needs people; older people taking buses to casinos and other leisure activities; and tourists and regional travelers. It comes with its own case, and contributors of $60 to Blanch Associates’ Indiegogo campaign will be given the harness and travel case in exchange for their donations, when and if they reach production.

McCauley and Bedell write that their biggest challenge in bringing SafeHarness to market is additional funding for the production tooling. They have already spent four years and about $125,000 to patent and develop it.

Ben Coxworth writes for Gizmag:

Instead of passengers supplying their own SafeHarnesses, the idea is more that bus lines would purchase them in bulk and install them in all their coaches. This would presumably be much easier and less expensive than installing permanent seat belts, and wouldn’t require any changes to be made to the existing seats. That said, individuals could also buy them for their own use.

“We’re just hoping that people will see the need for this and be willing to help out,” McCauley says in the Indiegogo video. “We’re really just trying to save some lives here.”

“And give people the choice about wearing seat belts,” Bedell adds. “I mean, they don’t have a choice. It’s crazy.”

The Indiegogo campaign ends on August 3, at 11:59 p.m. PT. Blanch Associates will only receive the pledged funds if their $50,000 funding goal has been reached by then.


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