Jon Sumroy, the inventor of mifold, the portable car seat that acts like a safety harness, wants all parents to understand the dangers of children using the adult seat belt during the summer holiday break.
Here we ask him why he believes children are at more risk over the summer.
Jon explains...'When I was living in the US, my kids, who were very little at the time, were involved in car sharing with various neighbours. On numerous occasions they would be required to sit using the adult belt. So I looked into the danger and I was alarmed.
When a child is too small for the adult seat belt, as is the case before they are 135cm tall, it can cut into their face or neck and ride up onto their soft stomach. This is incredibly dangerous in the event of a collision.
A seat belt chest strap must lie on the collar bone, over the edge of the shoulder and the lap belt should rest on the bones of the hips.
I estimated that in a quarter of their car journeys, my children might be put at risk using ill-fitting booster seats, or using nothing at all. Journeys such as, taking a quick trip in a different family car, using taxis and hire cars, in other parent's cars when three car seats won't fit across the back.
Looking at the available data in the UK, we see parents take a chance now and then. Frequently it's for short journeys, which is most concerning as accident data tells us, one-in-three accidents happen on short, local journeys.
And then there is the UK Law on Child car seats. It allows children to travel using the adult seat belt in certain situations, such as taking quick taxi rides. So, of course parents will take the risk at times.
It felt that now is the right time to talk about this, as the summer holidays loom and I expect these ad hoc journeys to increase.'
Tell us about your solution?
'I invented mifold for exactly these journeys. mifold is a portable car seat that adjusts the adult seat belt. It's incredibly compact, smaller than an iPad, weighing the same as a small bottle of water, is foldable and therefore highly portable. It can be kept in the glove compartment, or a child's backpack. But most importantly, it holds the EU ECE R44/04 safety standard that all child car seats must hold to be used in the UK.'
How does mifold work to protect a child?
'mifold has three belt guides. The shoulder belt strap and clip is attached to the back of a small seat and goes behind the child's back. The clip is attached to the adult seat belt chest strap and holds it down on the collar bone.
There are belt guides on either side of the child's hips to hold the lap belt correctly against the bones and off the soft stomach.'
It's tiny. How can you ensure that mifold won't move from under the child?
'The child's weight is designed to sink the entire mifold seat into the vehicle cushion, levelling out the two surfaces. The Super Tough Plastic Polymer is combined with 6061T aircraft grade aluminium. It is a load baring mechanism that holds a €˜Create the future' design award from NASA.'
What would you say has been your greatest achievement so far with mifold?
'The greatest achievements are receiving messages when mifold has saved children.'
One mother wrote: "When we were rear ended at a red light, the only child to have soreness? My son. In a traditional high back booster. From the belt that was almost, but not quite, where it needed to be. The lap part was still too high on his waist. He was sore for several days. My girls in mifold? Perfectly fine." Kennedy Lantz, mum from the USA
And another: "I know without a shadow of a doubt that my kids were saved because they were properly placed in booster seats. I have been wondering how the mifolds would withhold a wreck, and I am now 100% confident in saying they work! My babies are safe.€ Kylynne Huber, mum from the USA
For more detail on these case studies and pictures, see here http://www.mifold.com/fame
'Feedback like this makes all the hard work worth it.'