Most people know that a properly fastened seat belt can mean the difference between life and death in the event of a car accident. Seat belt use is required in 49 out of 50 states, with New Hampshire as the only holdout. Children must use seat belts or properly installed car seats in all 50 states. But what can you do when you’re driving a child or adult who refuses to buckle up? What are your options when your special needs passengers continually fight the seat belt or unbuckle it prematurely while you’re driving? The distraction caused by such passengers can be the cause of a serious car accident.
First thing’s first. I am not a parent. I am, however, trained in public health and social work and it was through training for my profession that I first ran across the Buckle Boss Belt Guard, a product intended to prevent passengers from removing their seat belts while the vehicle is in motion. Because of the work I was doing when I found the Buckle Boss back in 2000, I ended up purchasing two units and had plenty of occasion to use them.
A description of the Buckle Boss
The Buckle Boss is a device made of very durable plastic that fits over the top of a seat belt buckle. The design is simple, but ingenious. Rectangular shaped, the seat belt guard is completely open on one side, while the other side of the device has four “slats” over it, which create three empty slots. The slats very effectively keep children (and adults) from using their fingers to press the seat belt release button.
Using the Buckle Boss
First of all, it’s important to note that the Buckle Boss only works with seat belts that have a release button on top of the buckle. It won’t work with older seat belts that have a release button on the side.
To use the Buckle Boss, simply fit the device over the top of the seat belt buckle. Insert the seat belt tab into one of the empty slots. The creator of the Buckle Boss recommends not using the middle slot, since it’s not as easy to release the belt with that slot. To release the Buckle Boss, use a slim, flat object such as a key or a popsicle stick into one of the slots. This will allow you to push the seat belt release.
When I was using the Buckle Boss on a regular basis, I was driving a 1997 Toyota Corolla. I found that the Buckle Boss worked perfectly in the front seat of the car, but I couldn’t use it as easily in the back seat. For some reason, the seat belts in the back of my car had a shorter seat belt tab that did not allow room for the Buckle Boss. The device is made with very strong and thick plastic that would not allow the seat belts in the back seat of my Corolla to connect. I later found that I could use the Buckle Boss in all seats in our other car, which was at that time a 1998 Dodge Neon. It was in that car that I was able to make the most out of the Buckle Boss, since it did prevent my special needs passengers from removing their seat belts prematurely.
When we traded in our Corolla for a Toyota RAV 4, I tried using the Buckle Boss again and found that it wouldn’t work in any of the seats, including the ones in the front. However, Diana Powers, who runs GBY (God Bless You), the company that makes the Buckle Boss, writes on her Web site that if the Buckle Boss doesn’t fit your vehicle, you can email her for instructions on how to modify it so that it works properly. Failing that, you can return the Buckle Boss within 30 days for a refund, minus shipping and handling.
Where to find the Buckle Boss
The Buckle Boss is available for sale on www.buckleboss.com. It can also be found for sale through certain Web sites that sell products for people with special needs. It is not available in stores. At this writing, the Buckle Boss sells for $14 each, plus $3.25 shipping and handling. Residents of Massachusetts must add 6.25% sales tax. Discounts are given to those who order in bulk. GBY only accepts checks or money orders. No phone orders are accepted.
GBY will accept international orders, but payment must be completed by bank draft or money order. In addition, anyone ordering from outside the United States must provide GBY with the number of units requested before ordering so that shipping and handling costs can be accurately calculated.
Although I did not have much luck getting the Buckle Boss to work well in my Toyotas, I did have much success using this device in our American made vehicle. When it fits properly, the Buckle Boss is a very effective device that does prevent passengers from releasing the seat belt.
GBY is a very small company run by a nice lady who happened to have a brilliant idea. When my order arrived in the U.S. mail, it came with a very nice letter written by Diana Powers thanking me for my order and wishing me safe travels on the road. She also included a couple of tongue depressors, which make excellent tools for releasing the Buckle Boss.
Overall, I would recommend the Buckle Boss to anyone with a need for such a device. That would include people who are the parents of or work with children who have autism, Angelman Syndrome, or attention deficit disorder. It would also be useful for those who deal with adults with cognitive disabilities such as Alzheimer’s Disease.