You know how you get used to your life and forget things other people take for granted?
Listening to Lesley & Marianne’s Fatcast I started thinking about how life is different for superfat folks than it is for those size 24 and below. I shop in different catalogs, I have a seat belt extender for my car … wait, did I ever blog about my car’s seat belt extender?
I didn’t. Oh. Okay. Well then. I have a seat belt extender for my car – two, in fact. I’m not sure everyone my weight would NEED one. In my case, with my body shape, I need it. I got them with the car, which was purchased new from Toyota* at the end of 2001. Toyota provided them free of charge, but did insist on measuring me and the man of the house to make sure we a) needed them and b) got the “correct” size.
This extender is rather like the extenders on airplanes**, in that it buckles right onto the “normal” buckle. As a result it’s removable (and in fact it’s recommended that we remove it for people who don’t need it.) It ends up not just extending the reach of my seat belt, it also moves the “pivot point” for the shoulder belt over about 10″, which makes it fit better across my torso.
Manufacturers vary in terms of how they handle seat belts that don’t fit their customers. Some will provide or sell extenders, others install longer seat belts.*** There are also aftermarket solutions, such as extra-long seat belts and the “universal seat belt extender“.
What I do without an extender? It partly depends on the car. In most cars I can just use the belt as a lap belt only, and put the shoulder portion behind me. Yes, this is less safe. It also is often the only way to make it fit, and I’m not willing to ride in a car without a seat belt fastened.
I have demanded larger rental cars when the first one’s seat belt didn’t fit at all.
*Yes, a Toyota Prius. No, I’ve had no problems with the gas pedal.
***The site www.ifisher.com maintains information on getting extenders or longer seat belts for many types of cars. Honda is the most notable manufacturer that doesn’t provide extenders. The soc.support.fat-acceptance group FAQ includes some information about this and also on cars in general, but it is possibly out of date at this point.