Should Pregnant Women Disable Airbags to Avoid Hurting Their Bellies in a Car Accident?

Pretty pregnant driver on her way for check up.

Pretty pregnant driver on her way for check up.You should never disable an airbag if you drive or ride in a vehicle while pregnant. Airbags offer you and your unborn child the best protection in a car crash. When you get into a vehicle as a pregnant woman, you should keep the airbag on but move your seat as far back as possible.

What Is the 10-Inch Rule?

The 10-inch rule refers to the space you should keep between your breastbone and the steering wheel if you drive while pregnant. You might think turning off the airbag is the best way to protect your baby from injury during a collision. But disabling your airbag actually puts you and your child at risk.

If you sit in a car with airbags while pregnant, follow these tips to keep yourself and your baby safe:

  • Always check that the airbag in front of you is on before the car starts moving.
  • Move your seat as far back as possible while still being able to reach the pedals if necessary.
  • When driving, keep at least 10 inches between the steering wheel and your breastbone.
  • Angle the steering wheel toward your breastbone instead of your belly whenever you drive.

Should a Pregnant Woman Still Use Seat Belts?

Although you might experience discomfort wearing a seat belt while pregnant, consistent seat belt use is still vitally important. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends always wearing a seat belt when driving to protect you and your baby.

For most people, putting on a seat belt is second nature. Many of us don’t even think about it after closing the car door. However, things change when you get pregnant. Putting on a seat belt is suddenly more complicated, and a simple mistake could place you and your unborn child at risk.

But wearing a seat belt is essential whether you’re a driver or passenger – pregnant or not. Ideally, your seat belt should have a three-point restraint system with a shoulder and lap strap. Shoulder and lap belts work together to keep you restrained in your seat and minimize the risk of injury in a crash. They also reduce the chances of ejection from the vehicle in especially severe accidents.

How Should a Pregnant Woman Position the Seat Belt to Be Safe for the Fetus?

The correct way to wear a seat belt is the same for everyone. The shoulder belt should fit snugly across the shoulder and chest. The lap belt must sit low and flat over the hips.

However, pregnancy changes the body dramatically. Wearing your seat belt as you did before you got pregnant might not be possible, especially as your belly grows. You can reduce your discomfort while driving and protect yourself and your child by following these seat belt safety tips:

  • Position your lap belt snugly under your belly, across the tops of your hip bones and thighs. You should never wear the lap belt across your belly. It could injure the placenta or fetus as your body suddenly changes direction and momentum during a car crash.
  • If you’re the driver, tilt the steering wheel upward before moving. Your belly needs extra space when you’re pregnant. Positioning the wheel away from it reduces the risk of injury to your belly and your baby in the event of a wreck.
  • Move your shoulder belt between your breasts and over to one side of your belly. This will prevent the lap belt from sliding over your stomach and protect your head and chest in an accident.
  • Push your seat away from the steering wheel before you start driving. You should sit as far back as possible while remaining comfortable and allowing your feet to reach the pedals.
  • Adjust your seat to a comfortable position. You can recline your seat slightly to give your belly extra room if necessary. However, you shouldn’t recline it too far. Reclining too much will widen the gap between the seat belt and your shoulder, increasing your risk of injury if an accident happens.

You should consider allowing someone else to drive if your growing belly prevents you from wearing a seat belt properly or comfortably. The discomfort can be overwhelming, potentially creating a dangerous driving distraction.

Where Should a Pregnant Woman Sit If She Is Not the Driver?

The driver’s seat is the most dangerous location in a vehicle for a pregnant woman. The placement of the steering wheel in proximity to a pregnant woman’s growing belly makes the driver’s seat extremely hazardous to her unborn child. One of the best ways to protect yourself and your baby while pregnant is to have someone else drive for you.

Pregnant women should sit in the back seat with their seat belts on if they’re not driving. According to studies, the rear middle seat is the safest in the car.

It’s a good idea to sit in the middle seat to avoid hitting your head on the window during a crash – but only if the seat has a lap and shoulder belt. If you sit in the front passenger seat, push it as far back as it will go, wear your seat belt correctly, and don’t turn off the airbags.

Although letting someone else drive you around is an excellent plan, it might be impossible. You might have a job to go to, other children to care for, or responsibilities you can’t ignore. That’s why it’s so important to wear your seat belt correctly, keep airbags on, and be cautious if you drive while pregnant.

What Are Some Signs of Possible Injury to the Fetus from a Car Accident?

If you are in a car crash while pregnant, you should watch for signs of possible fetal injury, such as:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Change in the baby’s movement
  • Excessive vaginal bleeding
  • Urgent or painful urination
  • Severe headaches
  • Fever or chills
  • Stomach bruising
  • Contractions
  • Dizziness
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Finger or face swelling

Contact a Georgia Car Accident Lawyer

If you were hurt in a Georgia car accident as a pregnant mother, we hope this information has been helpful and that you and your baby are getting the treatment you need. Butler Kahn is here to speak with you when you’re ready to discuss your car accident case. You can always contact us for a free consultation to learn more about your legal options.

Picture of Jeb Butler
Jeb Butler’s career as a Georgia trial lawyer has led to a $150 million verdict in a product liability case against Chrysler for a dangerous vehicle design that caused the death of a child, a $45 million settlement for a young man who permanently lost the ability to walk and talk, and numerous other verdicts and settlements, many of which are confidential at the defendant’s insistence. Jeb has worked on several cases that led to systemic changes and improvements in public safety. He has been repeatedly recognized as a Georgia SuperLawyer and ranks among Georgia’s legal elite. Jeb graduated in the top 10% of his class at UGA Law, argued on the National Moot Court team, and published in the Law Review. He is the founding partner of Butler Kahn law firm. Connect with me on LinkedIn
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