Barbie car, scrambled eggs vividly remind fairgoers
importance of buckling up in cars

More than 1,200 broken eggs helped make a point to Western Idaho Fair goers that people should always be properly restrained when traveling in a motor vehicle.

A seat belt demonstration used chicken eggs and a Barbie car to demonstrate what happens to restrained and unrestrained motor vehicle occupants during a 35 mph crash.

The on-going demonstration was part of a highway safety exhibit at the 2010 Western Idaho Fair, Aug. 20-29, staffed by volunteers from ITD, the Federal Highway Administration, the Idaho Traffic Safety Commission, the Idaho Coalition for Motorcycle Safety, Boise Police Department and the Nampa Police Department.

The demonstration reached an estimated 2,400 people.

FHWA’s Lance Johnson, no stranger to scrambled poultry product, provided the equipment that he has used many times to show how unbuckled eggs break and restrained eggs survive a crash.

“The seat belt demo attracted all ages, including children under 5, teens, young adults and older drivers,” said Ping Yerby, a financial specialist with the Office of Highway Safety.

This was the first year ITD’s Office of Highway Safety helped organize rather than just help staff the fair booth, Yerby explained. It also was the first year that law enforcement officers helped with the outreach effort.

“Part of the vision in bringing different partners to man the booth is that highway safety is everyone’s job and responsibility,” she said. “We have been working toward bringing the highway safety stakeholders together, to better strengthen our partnerships and achieve our ‘Toward Zero Deaths’ goals. We want to keep people safe when traveling on Idaho highways.”

Yerby was “especially helpful in staffing and finding volunteers to work in the booth,” according to Peter Hartman, Idaho division administrator for FHWA, in a letter to ITD Director Brian W. Ness. (See letter)

He noted also that Maureen Gresham, Margaret Goertz, Kelly Campbell, Lisa Losness and Alisha Spoor were “very helpful in staffing and preparing materials for the booth.”

Hartman also thanked ITD’s Division of Motor Vehicles, and especially Barry Takeuchi, for their assistance in staffing the highway safety exhibit.

“We appreciate ITD’s efforts in dedicating resources to improve highway safety and willingness to partner on highway safety activities,” Hartman wrote.

Losness, adult occupant protection and child passenger safety, said that conversation around the exhibit usually began with children bringing their parents over to see the toy cars.

“Then one of us would say, ‘Do you want to see what happens if you don’t wear your seat belt?’ The kids would excitedly say ‘yes’ while the parents would give in and say ‘okay,’” Losness explained. “To add a little personality to the eggs, we drew faces on them, placed them in baggies and then strapped in one of the eggs while another remained loose in the passenger seats of the toy car.”

“Once the car was pulled back and let go, the results spoke for themselves,” she said. “I just loved the looks on the children’s faces as they saw firsthand the dangers of not buckling up. It’s a simple, but powerful demonstration.”

“Several children said, ‘I always get in my car seat, but dad doesn’t always buckle up,’” she added, reminding the children, “It’s their job to help others remember to buckle up.”

DMV volunteer Carol Price reported that most of the questions she fielded were about the new driver’s license and specialty plates the department offers. She added that a couple of questions were about ATVs and vehicle titles.

Overall response to the new driver’s licenses was positive and many fairgoers thanked ITD’s volunteers for staffing a booth at the fair, providing information and answering questions.

Photos: Jeanne Purcell (left) and Carol Price answered questions about driver’s licenses and other DMV activities (top); Barbie car egg crash demonstration (clockwise): FHWA’s Jason Giard demonstrated to young fairgoers how seat belts save lives with a “Barbie” car and eggs; Ping Yerby and Matt Goertz show how eggs were prepared for the fair demonstration by personalizing each vehicle occupant; egg occupants are placed in a Barbie car and are launched, head-first, into a stationary wall at the end of the table. Bottom right photo shows the tragic results.

Published 9-10-2010