Driving while pregnant? Beware of seatbelt adjusters
Seatbelts save thousands of lives every year, so it might surprise you to learn that those life-savers can contribute to fetal injury when pregnant people are in car crashes. Consumer Reports reveals the important safety steps you need to take when driving while pregnant.
Remember those old crash-test dummy PSAs reminding you to buckle your safety belt? It shouldn’t be surprising that the two dummies were named Vince and Larry.
Vehicles and restraint systems are designed to protect average-sized men. That potentially leaves small women, older people, and children more vulnerable in a crash. And it’s bad for pregnant people.
To address that risk for pregnant people, some companies sell seatbelt 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 do they work?
The problem with seatbelt adjusters is that the government doesn’t set any standards for them or regulate them. So many experts think that the three-point seatbelt is still a pregnant person’s best bet and that any modifications to the car’s safety restraint system can be problematic.
Even though seatbelts in cars weren’t designed specifically to protect pregnant people, they’re still the best option for safety—if they’re worn correctly.
First, adjust your seat so that you have as much distance as possible between your belly and the steering wheel. Adjust the steering wheel so that you can reach it and the pedals comfortably. Then, put your seatbelt on, adjust the shoulder belt height, and make sure your lap belt is properly positioned.
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.
Other reminders: 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.
With files from Consumer Reports