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Safety alert for driving while pregnant

There’s no doubt that seat belts save thousands of lives every single year but those belts can contribute to fetal injury when pregnant women are involved in car crashes. So, if you are pregnant, Consumer Report has some important safety steps you need to take to protect your unborn child.

There’s no doubt that seat belts save thousands of lives every single year but those belts can contribute to fetal injury when pregnant women are involved in car crashes. So, if you are pregnant, Consumer Report has some important safety steps you need to take to protect your unborn child.

You may remember that old crash-test dummy PSAs reminding you to buckle your safety belt. Those two dummies were named Vince and Larry -- both men.

“Vehicles and restraint systems are designed to protect average-sized men. That potentially leaves small women, the elderly and children more vulnerable in a crash. And it’s bad for pregnant people,” Consumer Reports Investigative Reporter Rachel Rabkin-Peachman said.

To address that risk for pregnant people, some companies sell seat belt adjusters or positioners, devices that attach to the lap portion of a seat belt and essentially anchor it down between the user’s legs, farther away from the abdomen. But Consumer Reports found there is still an issue.

“The problem with these seat belt adjusters is that the government does not set any standards for these devices or regulate them. So, many experts believe that the three-point seat belt is still a pregnant person’s best bet and that any modifications to the car’s safety restraint system can be problematic,” Rabkin-Peachman warned.

Consumer Reports says even though seat belts in cars weren’t designed specifically to protect pregnant people, they’re still the best option for safety if worn correctly.

  • First, adjust your seat so that you have as much distance as possible between your belly and the steering wheel.
  • Next, adjust the steering wheel so that you can reach it and the pedals comfortably.
  • Then, put your seat belt on, adjust the shoulder belt height and make sure your lap belt is properly positioned.
  • Finally, don’t wear the lap belt over your belly because that could harm your baby in a crash. Make sure it’s positioned underneath. It should fit snugly across your hips and pelvic bone.

Consumer Reports said you should never disable the airbags and if you don’t have to be the driver, it’s best to sit in the front passenger seat with it pushed as far back from the dashboard as possible.


About the Authors:

At WJXT for a quarter of a century, Mary Baer anchors the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. news weekdays.