Should I Wear My Seat Belt If I’m Pregnant?

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Today we’ll talk about why you ought to use a seatbelt and we’ll talk about how you should wear it.

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► I’m not just a personal injury lawyer, I’m also a father to two young children, so the question we’re going to talk about today became really important in my household when my wife and I learned that we were expecting. That is this. If you’re pregnant, should you use a seatbelt? The answer is yes, and you should also use the airbags. Don’t turn them off.
► Today we’ll talk about why you ought to use a seatbelt and we’ll talk about how you should wear it, and then we’ll talk for a little bit about airbags.
► To do that, we’ll go through this document on the screen behind me, which is a handout put together by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While our government doesn’t always do a perfect job of everything that it does, they did a pretty good job with this handout. I think you’re going to find it helpful. It has some great diagrams that we’ll talk about.
► The biggest picture is this. When we talk about seatbelt use, what we’re trying to prevent is keeping an occupant of a vehicle from being thrown around inside the car in the event of a collision. That’s exactly why an expecting mother should wear the seatbelt. Because even if there is some low risk of the belt itself causing injury, that risk is far outweighed by the greater risk of the mom being thrown around inside the car in a collision and hitting something, most likely the steering wheel, that’s going to cause a real injury. The seatbelt is a good idea for the mom and for the baby because it keeps the mom from getting thrown around inside the car in the event of a collision.
► There are some right and wrong ways to wear the seatbelt. There’s some good diagrams here. The way a seatbelt ought to be worn is pretty much how it usually is. The lap portion of the belt goes right over the pelvis, right over the iliac crest, which is about right here. Then the shoulder portion is a normal fit.
► Now the handout does a good job of showing how it shouldn’t be worn. The belt doesn’t come over the belly. It goes underneath and right over that iliac crest about where my brown belt is now. There’s some good illustrations down here a little bit that show the profile. You can see the lap belt goes under the belly and on top of the pelvis.
► Another thing we can talk about when it comes to how to wear a seatbelt and how to position yourself in the car is that the object, remember, is to keep the mother from being thrown around and striking other objects inside the car. For that reason, it’s a good idea insofar as you comfortably and safely, to scoot your seat back and put a little bit of distance between that steering wheel and you and your baby. You wouldn’t want your stomach touching the steering wheel because that increases the risk of impact of the baby in the event of a collision.
► Let’s look on down a little bit. Here we come to the part about airbags. Really the calculus with airbags is about the same. I know a lot of cars have switches where you can turn an airbag on or off. Don’t turn it off, leave it on. In modern cars, seat belts and airbags are designed to work together to prevent injury. They’re designed to work down to the nanosecond in terms of when each one fired and how much and what it does. The overarching goal, and what airbags do really well with they’re worn right is to keep occupants, including expecting mom, from striking things inside the car. Yes, an airbag can be scary when it goes off, and yes, there is some impact force, but that is a lot less than the impact force of a body hitting a steering wheel or something else inside the car if the occupant is moving around during a collision.

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