A few doctors have expressed concern related to the redirected belt path from the anchor point up and around the hips to the vehicle anchor points and how this is related to the femoral artery in the groin area. While Crash Test Dummies are limited in what they can measure, they do take measurements in all six directions at the femur.
We at Safe Ride 4 Kids had a crash test done to document a couple other things and did collect the data on the femurs during those tests. What it showed is that at the standard FMVSS 30 mph crash test there is not enough stress at the mid femur to cause concern, especially as the femurs are the strongest bones in the body.
Much like a new drug, testing can only go so far then we have to put it out into the world and get feedback from real world situations.
The Tummy Shield has been available and protecting Australian moms since 2008 and is now available around the world. There are thousands of them in use and there have been quite a few reported crashes with zero reports of an adverse outcome or injury to the mothers legs or femoral arteries.
All indications are that the Tummy Shield does indeed add a layer of safety for the mom and the unborn baby.
Just in the few months that we have been offering it here in the USA we have had one mother, 7 months pregnant with twins, report to us that she was involved in a crash and there were zero adverse outcomes for anyone. Everyone was fine.
At Safe Ride 4 Kids we are very eager to pursue any reports and collect as much data as we can. We understand the need to collect evidence over time and we replace the product right away for the safety of all.
I can tell you that, as a Firefighter/paramedic I have looked at this product from every angle I can think of and tried to come up with all the risks associated with using the Tummy Shield and at the end of the day I am faced with the reality that the existing seat belt was never designed or intended to provide optimum protection for the pregnant woman or her baby. There is nothing in the FMVSS testing or certification standards that address ensuring that the existing seat belt is safe for a pregnant woman and her baby.
Is it safer than not wear a seat at all? Sure, but that is a long way from being optimum.
While there are certain theoretical risks associated with redirecting the seat belt, as far as I can tell the potential benefits far out way the theoretical risks. I have heard some people object with statements like, “Well this configuration could break a femur”. I have 2 responses to them, one emotional and one scientific. #1 show me a mom who would not prefer a broken leg to loosing her baby in a car crash. #2 If she is involved in a car crash that involves enough crash force to break a femur or two can you imagine what that same crash would have done to the pelvis and the baby? I mean, compared to the femur, the pelvis is a china bowl and way more susceptible to severe, virtually unconfined, bleeding potential.
Then we have to talk about submarining and intrusion of the seat belt into the abdominal area and uterus. During our crash test, which compared using just the seat belt with using the Tummy Shield, it was obvious to see that submarine is all but eliminated when the Tummy Shield is used and it makes total sense when you think about it. There is a reason race car drivers have a harness that has an anchor point in the crotch area. They fully understand how important it is to eliminate submarining.