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Hurphy Durphy Seat Belt Buckle Guard was developed to solve a need in the child safety market. After becoming a new mum, founder Imogen Mirmikidis experienced a frightening moment when a back-seat passenger accidentally unbuckled her baby’s car seat unknowingly.
She travelled along the freeway at 100kph, not realising that her son was at risk. Taking an exit she saw him swing across the back seat in the rear view mirror. He screamed, and she had to pull over and try and reinstall the restraint with cars whizzing past and her baby in distress.
Within just a week a friend experienced the same ordeal, only they were in an accident and the child sustained head injuries after she was catapulted, her head making contact with the interior of the vehicle.
Unnerved by these experiences and seeing as it is common for wandering fingers and other objects like pets to unintentionally hit the seatbelt release button, Im ogen scoured the stores for a device to protect the buckle. To her surprise, there were no products on the market that performed this task.
Imogen began to research this issue and was horrified at the reality:
Child restraint statistics
- Car crashes are the number one cause of death of children in Australia. Many of these deaths are preventable.
- According to the 2006 Australasian Road Safety Research Policing and Education Conference, a staggering two in every five children injured in motor vehicle accidents are a direct result of an incorrectly fitted child restraint. In fact, a child who is incorrectly restrained is seven times more likely to sustain life-threatening injuries than one using the restraint correctly.
- The Royal Automobile Club states that over 1,500 children died between 1989-2004 in accidents that may have been preventable if their car seats had been properly secured.
- Approximately 500 Children are ki lled every year or seriously injured in car accidents
- Approximately 2300 children sustain injuries in car accidents each year from incorrectly secured restraints
- The goal of the new child restraint laws is to decrease the number of children being killed and seriously injured on our roads from approximately 500 by 30% to approximately 350 each year. It is estimated that this would save the community over $72 million a year.
- According to National Transport Commission, there are an estimated 1.2 million Australian children aged 4 years an under traveling in motor vehicles.
Undeterred, Imogen decided to solve the problem herself by inventing a sturdy seatbelt buckle cover called the Hurphy Durphy Seat Belt Buckle Guard. It took over three years of research, development and testing for the product to mature into the current design. Initially Imogen created the first version of Hurphy Durphy Seat Belt Buckle Guard from neoprene off cuts that was sew n together in a homemade prototype.
From there, Imogen received a small grant from the Small Business Development Corporation and approached university industrial design lecturers to guide her with advice and contacts in the industrial design world. After finding some promising new industrial design graduates Aurora Studio to develop and test her product, she finalised the design and called on family and friends to invest in her innovation for the betterment of road safety in Australia. 9 months of assessment by the Australian Motor Vehicle Certification Board representing all states and territories of Australia as well as New Zealand resulted in the Hurphy Durphy Seat Belt Buckle Guard being given the green light for public use.
Imogen has since received hundreds of similar stories from mums across Australia and overseas who have had their car seat become unsecured and then suffered varying consequences as a result.