Grant-funded project aims to improve kids’ safety on the roads

Posted: July 25, 2016

Ohio State researchers are developing an interactive education station that will allow parents and caregivers to practice installing child restraints and receive personalized feedback on how to properly use them to keep children safer on the roads.

Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of death of children in the United States. Child restraint technology is effective at preventing death and injuries when used appropriately, but up to 93 percent of child restraints on today’s roads are being used incorrectly.

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John Bolte

A $35,624 grant from Battelle Engineering, Technology and Human Affairs (BETHA) Endowment annual grant competition will help fund the project. Led by John Bolte, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and anatomy, the station is one of just six projects selected to receive BETHA funding in 2016 out of 19 submitted proposals.

The station will include child restraints instrumented with sensors, an instrumented vehicle seat, instrumented dolls and an interactive computer interface. In addition to providing real-time educational feedback to the user, the software will record information about the users’ errors during all installation attempts and provide these data to researchers.

“The BETHA grant provides the perfect platform to address the disparity between carefully engineered, life-saving technology and the less-than-perfect dissemination of this technology into the hands of the public,” Bolte said. “Even the best scientific advancements lose value if their intended benefits cannot be harnessed by end users. We are very grateful that BETHA is giving us the opportunity to explore this concept.”

Bolte expects a prototype station to be completed within a year, followed by six to nine months of testing before a public unveiling.

A partnership of the Battelle Memorial Institute and The Ohio State University, the BETHA annual grant competition supports projects that examine the complex relationship between science and technology on society and cultural issues.