Top 5 Summer Car Safety Tips for Pregnant Women
Summer is right around the corner which means summer vacations and increased traffic on the highways. Research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that more car accidents and fatalities happen during the summer months of June, July and August than any other time of the year. Summer is also statistically the highest birth season. Put these facts together and it equates to a lot of pregnant women on the road and at risk for accidents during summer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 32,800 pregnant women are involved in motor vehicle crashes every year. And according to SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A., such crashes are the leading cause of death and serious trauma during pregnancy.
Expectant moms can never be too careful when driving particularly because they are their child’s first safety seat! Here are a few car safety tips to ensure that your bump is protected and that your precious unborn cargo remains safe while you are on the road.
Most expectant moms fear that wearing a seatbelt can harm their unborn child, however, the opposite is true. Not wearing one could result in premature delivery or even death in the event of a crash, however, most women wear their seat belt incorrectly during pregnancy. The lap portion should be placed under the abdomen and across the upper thighs, as low as possible on the hips — never above or over the belly. To ensure proper positioning and safety second to none, pregnant moms can use the Tummy Shield™ from Safe Ride 4 Kids. The Tummy Shield is the only crash-tested pregnancy seat belt that actually protects baby in the event of a crash. Its patented design redirects the seat belt away from the pregnant belly, securing the seat belt at the leg, not the across the low belly where it can crush an unborn baby. It features stainless steel hook construction that attaches securely to the car’s seat and holds the belt firmly in place, without any slippage or dangerous slack. It retails for $149 and is available for purchase at www.saferide4kids.com
Give your bump ample room!
It is recommended that women try to position themselves at least 10 inches from the steering wheel when pregnant and make sure the steering wheel is tilted toward the breastbone rather than toward the abdomen. The driver’s seat should be in a comfortable, upright position, allowing as much space between the steering wheel and belly as possible while still being able to reach the wheel and pedals. When riding in the passenger seat, it is also recommended that expectant moms move their seat as far back as possible.
Don’t disable airbags!
Some cars are equipped with airbag disabling switches. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, doctors recommend that pregnant women always leave their airbags turned on. This safety feature coupled with appropriate seat belt use can protect a pregnant mother and her unborn child from crashing into the vehicle’s interior, other passengers or being thrown from the car in the event of an accident.
The risk of a traffic accident rises by about 40% during the second trimester of pregnancy according to a 2014 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. This increased risk doesn’t mean that women should stop driving, but that they should drive more carefully. According to the study’s research on car accidents involving pregnant women, every one of the crashes could have been avoided by a small change in the driver’s behaviors. Simple road rules such as obey stop signs, don’t speed, avoid distracted driving, and no texting might all seem mundane but could all help prevent an accident. When a passenger, pregnant women should make sure whoever is driving them is also abiding by all traffic rules, too.
Be a passenger!
When possible, it is advised that moms-to-be avoid driving altogether, especially as their pregnancy progresses. The uterus will eventually be in a position where it could be crushed by the steering wheel in a crash. Pregnancy is a time when women should especally listen to their bodies and know their limitations. Do not ever attempt to drive if any of the following are true: your doctor advises against it; you’re feeling dizzy, tired, or nauseous; or you think you may be in labor.
If you are in an accident while you are pregnant, contact your doctor immediately and seek medical care- even after a seemingly harmless fender bender. You might think it is nothing but it could affect your baby.