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.

Are Bigger Cars Really Safer?

When it comes to automotive safety, many people rely on age-old maxim, “Bigger is better.” Most motorists assume that wrapping themselves in a large cocoon of steel is the best way of increasing their chances of surviving a crash. This odd, yet understandable theory is often a driving factor for those buying SUVs, CUVs and pickup trucks. However, just because a car happens to be big doesn’t mean that it’s safer than other vehicles on the road. The average auto accident attorney deals with the aftermath of accidents involving a variety of vehicles, including large SUVs and pickup trucks. The consensus among not only these professionals but also among institutions like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is that while size can be helpful in some circumstances, the size of the vehicle is not necessarily the determining factor in whether a crash results in injuries.

Safety Factors

There are plenty of misconceptions surrounding larger vehicles in terms of safety, but there are a few kernels of truth. For one, having a larger vehicle may put you at an advantage in an accident with a smaller car. However, it’s not sheer size that dictates your chances of surviving an accident with any vehicle. For one, the mass of your vehicle plays a much larger role than its size. If two large vehicles collide, the one that will take less damage will be the one whose mass is greater—the heavier vehicle. The lighter vehicle (for example, vehicles made more recently with the inclusion of fiberglass and other lightweight materials) will not have the same advantage.

Your vehicle’s performance largely depends on its ability to absorb and dissipate the energy of a crash. Nearly all modern vehicles sold today feature well-designed crumple zones that deform and give way on impact, reducing the amount of energy that goes through a vehicle during a crash. In the event of a collision with another vehicle, having a well-designed crumple zone is a bigger advantage than having the largest vehicle.

Rollovers are another problem area that has traditionally plagued large vehicles, especially those with higher ground clearances. Many people feel safer in these vehicles thanks to the greater riding height and the ability to see over other cars; but the higher ground clearance combined with a higher center of mass and taller profile add up to make SUVs and pickup trucks more prone to rolling over during emergency lane changes and other sharp, unexpected handling maneuvers.

In 2009, SUV rollovers accounted for 2,200 vehicle-related deaths. Fortunately, many car manufacturers have begun to include stability control on most new vehicles as standard equipment. Another important innovation has been the development of airbags for rollover protection and the introduction. A third safety feature that is helpful to many has been the new generation of collision avoidance technology which has reduced serious injuries caused by rollovers.

Larger vehicles are often heavier than regular cars, translating to longer stopping distances and handling that is less responsive to quick input than most ordinary cars. Even when they are made of lighter materials, these larger vehicles are going to be heavier than, for example a sports car. The false security that all-wheel drive offers may also prompt drivers to take unnecessary risks they normally wouldn’t, such as driving at high speeds on icy or snow-packed roads, as well as on roads that are flooded.

Avoidance is the Best Policy

Being behind the wheel of a large SUV or truck during an accident pales in comparison to avoiding accidents in the first place. After all, any car is only as safe as the driver in control of it. It’s up to you as a driver to decrease your chances of being involved in a serious accident and to follow all traffic safety laws. If you find yourself feeling uncomfortable with driving conditions, it is a good idea to find a place to safely stop and park the car until the situation improves; for example, if there is torrential rain that affects visibility, pull over if possible or park at a gas station and wait for the rain to pass. Exercising safe driving habits will do much more to keep you from injury than owning a large vehicle.

If you’re involved in an accident involving any vehicle, turning to an auto accident attorney should be one of the first courses of action to take. We invite you to see how our expertise can help you get the help you need when you need it most.

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