do pregnant women need to wear seat belts?

When you're expecting, precautions surrounding health and safety become paramount — from incessantly reading car-seat safety reviews to choosing the right doctor. But it's important to remember the everyday basics too. Get the rundown on why it's important to wear your seat belt every time you step foot in a car, especially if you're pregnant.

seat belt safety and pregnancy

Car crashes account for nearly two-thirds of trauma experienced during pregnancy in developed countries, according to info from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

If you're pregnant, wearing a seat belt poses no increased chance of injury to your unborn child. Not only that, it helps protect you in the event of an accident — which is inherently vital to your baby.

Most states mandate seat belt usage for either all or some occupants in a moving vehicle — regardless of pregnancy. But even if you live in a state that doesn't have primary or secondary seat belt laws, it's safer for expectant women to belt up every time they get in the car.

how to properly wear a seat belt when pregnant

It's not just about wearing a seat belt — it's about wearing one properly. Here are a few guidelines, according to info from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia:

  • Make sure to wear the shoulder and lap belt in combination; this has proven both effective and safe for all passengers.
  • Your seat belt should always feel snug but comfortable.
  • The lap belt should be under your abdomen and across your upper thighs.
  • The shoulder belt should rest between your breasts and on the middle of your collarbone. Make sure the strap is snug enough to stay on your shoulder.
  • Never wear the lap belt across your belly, or place the shoulder belt behind your back or under your arm.

If all of this sounds like it's a lot to remember, that's OK! A maternity seat belt can help ensure both portions of the belt remain in their proper places.

are air bags safe during pregnancy?

Yes. In fact, deactivating your air bag can increase your chances of being injured in a crash.

It's best to move your seat as far away from the air bag as possible in order to prevent maximum impact if they're deployed during an accident — 10 inches (or about the length of a piece of notebook paper) is a pretty good general rule. It's also a good idea to tilt the steering wheel toward your sternum and away from your abdomen, when possible.

And if you're not driving, you might want to consider riding in the back, middle seat, which is seen as the safest spot in the car as long as it's equipped with a shoulder and lap belt in combination.

The physics behind seat belt safety
Check out the Esurance Blog for info on everything from the material your seat belt is made from to why properly buckling up saves lives.

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