Car Accidents While Pregnant: What to Consider

Couples who are experiencing pregnancy are well aware of the fact that everything about their lives is going to change. From the clothes they wear to the kinds of foods that they can eat, everything must now be done in the interest of the baby to come. Everyday habits will be changing drastically for the new parents, particularly the mother—as she will have to adapt to new daily tasks and practices from the early days of her pregnancy. One area of their daily routine that couples may not immediately consider however is the fact that their approach to safety in the car must undergo some changes as well. Even before the new baby has arrived, there will need to be changes to the way that pregnant women and their partners approach their daily commute and even longer trips by car.

Vehicle safety designs are constructed with children, the elderly, and the average adult in mind. The parameters of safety devices do not often account for pregnant women. While there are some car manufacturers who use tests designed to mimic the conditions of a pregnant woman, not all of them do. Additionally, it is not as cost-efficient for companies to design safety features based on what is a temporary condition. Women who are expecting should observe some of the following precautions in order to protect the child they are nurturing in the event of an accident. Becoming aware of the dangers is the first step in protecting one’s self. Any accident, even the most minor, requires a call to the doctor right away. The injuries received in an accident—even a minor one—are not always readily apparent, and if you or someone you know is an expectant mother, early intervention is essential for avoiding potentially dire consequences. The CDC has conducted studies showing that even women who do not suffer any injuries during a car accident display a greater risk for premature deliveries.

First, pregnant women must change the way that they wear their safety belts, particularly as the pregnancy progresses. Early on, the seatbelt can typically be worn normally, and be sure to ask your doctor at what point during the pregnancy you should make changes. The shoulder portion of the belt should be placed over the collar bone while the lap belt should be positioned as low as possible. The recommended position is under the abdomen and across the upper thigh. The shoulder strap should always be worn and never placed under the arm or behind the back. This positioning allows for the best protection of the mother while also limiting risk to the developing baby. Pregnant women should also avoid driving whenever possible. The proximity of the uterus to the steering wheel presents a serious threat to the child in the event of an accident. When driving cannot be avoided, it is advised that women seat themselves at least 10 inches back from the steering wheel.

The airbags do not pose a lethal threat to the child as long as women sit as far back in the seat as possible, keeping their seat belt extremely snug. Although there are still some risks associated with this safety device for pregnant women, studies from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists conclude that the benefits of airbags in conjunction with the use of safety belts far outweigh the risk factors. Side airbags also pose little risk to the baby; still, it is not recommended that women lean on the side door panels while traveling. The largest risk to pregnant women associated with side impacts are the objects with which the car collides such as poles, trees, and other vehicles. As such, pregnant women should attempt to remain in the middle of the seat as much as possible; if you feel the need to lean, try to lean towards the middle of the car, as the risks are diminished.

Pregnant women involved in accidents due to the negligence of other drivers are prime candidates for the services of an auto accident attorney. The injuries incurred can severely complicate pregnancies and deliveries even when the damage is not readily apparent. When serious injury to the fetus or death does occur as a result of an accident, the repercussions can be devastating and the emotional distress severe. Women suffering in this way must secure the services of an auto accident attorney in order to ensure that the pain forced upon her family is justly compensated.

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