SAN ANTONIO – Seat belts can and do save lives. Those life-saving devices can also injure the fetus if a pregnant woman is involved in a a crash, so safety experts say it’s important to buckle up correctly.
“Vehicle and restraint systems are designed to protect average-sized men,” said Consumer Reports’ Rachel Rabkin Peachman. “That potentially leaves small women, the elderly and children more vulnerable in a crash. And it’s bad for pregnant people.”
To address the risk for pregnant women, some companies sell seat belt adjusters or positioners. They’re devices that attach to the lap portion of the belt and anchor it between the legs. Do they work?
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,” Peachman said.
The seat belt needs to be worn correctly, however.
Consumer Reports says first adjust the seat to have as much room as possible between the pregnant belly and steering wheel. Next adjust the steering wheel so it and the pedals can be comfortably reached.
Adjust the shoulder belt height and position the lap belt snugly across the hips and pelvic bone. Don’t wear the lap belt across the belly. It should be underneath to protect the fetus in case of a crash.
As for airbags, they should be not disabled. Pregnant passengers should sit in the front with the seat pushed back as far as possible.