Bestvest – the safety jacket worn by thousands of coach and bus passengers across the UK – has been reduced in price to £40 by Unwin Safety Systems.
Bestvest lets people travel in greater safety and comfort. It secures a seatbelt on the shoulder and pelvis, and reduces the risk of injuries.
Chris Hellier, managing director of Unwin, said: “Unwin’s aim has always been to protect people and help save lives. We’ve cut the price of Bestvest to £40, so its benefits can be even more widely enjoyed.
“Bestvest is now being manufactured directly for us, which is why we can pass on savings to customers.”
Bestvest is worn like a body-warmer and can be used by anyone aged 5 and over, in any vehicle with a 3-point seatbelt. It’s available in unisex grey and a range of sizes.
Bestvest has four external fasteners, used according to whether a person’s seatbelt is coming over their right shoulder or their left. Either way, Bestvest holds that seatbelt in the optimum position across shoulder, chest and lap, to eliminate the risk of seatbelt slippage from the shoulder and thereby reduce the risk of injury in a crash.
Bestvest also helps disabled people to sustain a safe and comfortable posture during transport.
Bestvest was first produced in Scotland to help a father transport his disabled daughter. Jim Halliday was fed up with strapping his daughter Chelsea into a contraption “like a horse-harness with buckles.” It felt cumbersome and intrusive, and Jim still found it very difficult indeed to get a seatbelt to stay in the correct position across his daughter’s shoulder. He feared for Chelsea’s safety, should there be an accident, and he also worried about her posture.
So, in partnership with inventor Hugh Thomson and Aberdeen City Council, Jim developed Bestvest. Three years of work and £200,000 of investment went into this cleverly simple product, which was extensively tested and certified for use by the Transport Research Laboratory in London. Bestvest has also been endorsed by safety campaigners at BUSK (Belt Up School Kids).
Unwin is the exclusive distributor of Bestvest to the disabled and community transport markets in the UK, Europe, Asia, Australia and the USA.
Bestvest is popular with many people travelling in coaches, buses, minibuses and cars. Transport operators like it too, because it’s simple to use, easy to adjust, easy to remove, and easy to store (it folds up small and smart).
Customers include local authority in-house transport services, charities, patient transport services, nursing and care homes, and schools. Other purchasers include NHS ambulances, individuals with wheelchair-accessible vehicles, and parents.
Bestvest helps passengers with epilepsy, care home residents with conditions such as dementia, autistic children and adults with learning difficulties, among many others.
One strength of Bestvest’s unisex and flexible style is that it’s non-discriminating between users.
Mr Hellier said: “One further advantage of wearing Bestvest is that people retain the freedom to move about within their seats a bit – as we all like to – without compromising their safety.
“We never forget that people are people – they’re individuals, not objects to be clamped down and held completely stationary while they’re moved from place to place.
“Bestvest – like all our other products – is about helping real people to get on with their lives, safely and simply.”
He added: “It’s important to note that Bestvest is not intended to compete with specialist harnesses designed for individuals with complex disabilities.
“For example, we wouldn’t suggest that a wheelchair passenger with a spinal disability should use Bestvest if their occupational therapist had recommended a tailor-made solution to secure them. The advice and recommendations of an individual’s OT should always take precedence.
“Bestvest is intended for a more general widespread use on coaches, buses and minibuses, and in specially-adapted vehicles and cars.
“It’s perfect for community transport, for example, if you’ve got people using a wide range of wheelchairs on a minibus, going to hospital or school.
“The great thing about Bestvest is that it enhances people’s overall safety. And all sizes now cost just £40.”