Safety First: Assistive Devices for Automotive Independence

(Duke University)

Buckling and unbuckling multitoolMichelle Seywald, Virginal Durham, Jennifer Sekar

We created a set of three devices to aid people in buckling and unbuckling a seatbelt and opening and closing a gas cap. We initially developed these devices to meet the needs of our client John, who has thrombocytopenia absent radius (or TAR) syndrome, and could not complete these tasks independently. The set of devices includes: (1) a telescoping multipurpose tool with a clip on one end for buckling and a sheath on the other for unbuckling, (2) a slack maintainer that reduces the force necessary to buckle a seatbelt by preventing seatbelt retraction, and (3) a gas cap opener consisting of a head that fits over the gas cap and a T-shaped handle. These devices, when used in tandem, allowed our client to buckle and unbuckle his seatbelt and open and close the gas cap, giving him independence in the car. Given the portability and versatility of these products, we believe these devices could be used either together or separately by anyone experiencing limited grip strength or mobility.

Safety First Design Brief 



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