Children's and Adults' Comfort Experience of Extra Seat Belts When Riding in the Rear Seat of a Passenger Car
Journal article, 2015
The objective of this study was to explore passengers' comfort experience of extra seat belts during on-road driving in the rear seat of a passenger car and to investigate how the use of extra belts affects children's and adults' attitudes to the product.
Two different seat belt systems were tested, criss-cross (CC) and backpack (BP), consisting of the standard 3-point belt together with an additional 2-point belt. In total, 32 participants (15 children aged 6-10, 6 youths aged 11-15, and 11 adults aged 20-79, who differed considerably in size, shape, and proportions) traveled for one hour with each system, including city traffic and highway driving. Four video cameras monitored the test subject during the drive. Subjective data regarding emotions and perceived discomfort were collected in questionnaires every 20 min. A semistructured interview was held afterwards.
All participant groups accepted the new products and especially the increased feeling of safety (P <.01); 56% preferred CC and 44% preferred BP but the difference was not significant. In total, 81% wanted to have extra seat belts in their family car. CC was appreciated for its symmetry, comfort, and the perceived feeling of safety. Some participants found CC unpleasant because the belts tended to slip close to the neck, described as a strangling feeling. BP was simpler to use and did not cause annoyance to the neck in the way CC did. Instead, it felt asymmetric and to some extent less safe than CC. Body size and shape affected seat belt fit to a great extent, which in turn affected the experience of comfort, both initially and over time. Perceived safety benefit and experienced comfort were the most determinant factors for the attitude toward the extra seat belts. The extra seat belts were perceived as being better than the participants had expected before the test, and they became more used to them over time.
This exploratory study provided valuable knowledge from a user perspective for further development of new seat belt systems in cars. In addition to an increased feeling of safety, seat belt fit and comfort are supplementary influencing factors when it comes to gaining acceptance of new seat belt systems.