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UHP using ride to simulate slow-speed car crash for kids

UHP using ride to simulate slow-speed car crash for kids



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Sandra Yi reportingWe always hear that seat belts save lives, now some college students have created a project that literally drives the point home, and highway patrol troopers will be using it.

This goes one step further than the typical public safety campaign. It lets you experience what it's like to be in a slow-speed crash.

One student, Amber, said, "It felt like going on a ride." But this ride has a serious message behind it. It's designed to convince people about the importance of buckling up.

Blaine Robbins said, "The object here is that people have their seat belts on. Just kind of gives them the sensation of how the seat belt will grab you, hold you in your seat."

The ride is designed to simulate a head-on collision with two vehicles going five miles an hour. Even at that slow speed, it gives quite an impact. Curtis Nye led a team of eight Weber State University (WSU) students who created the Seat Belt Convincer for a senior project. Today they presented it to the Utah Highway Patrol, which will use it as an educational tool in schools and at public events.

Nye says, "You don't really realize how fast five miles an hour is. It's not that fast. You get in here, you try it out, you realize, five miles an hour, even at that I need to wear my seat belt."

More Utahns are getting that message already. The UHP says 86 percent of us are buckling up. But of the 285 people who died in car crashes in the state last year, a third of them were not wearing their seatbelt.

Sgt. Blaine Robbins said, "What we hope is to gain voluntary compliance so people know and understand how important seat belts are."

Troopers and the ride's creators want to get the message out to kids, too. The WSU students hope the ride, with its bright colors and Jeep design, will appeal to them. "If we can get them early in the habit of start wearing their seat belts, just may make it a lifelong habit for the rest of their lives," Nye said.

The students have been working on the project for about a year. The Highway Patrol funded it.

E-mail: syi@ksl.com

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