Bump on the move

Blog Article

Many pregnant women believe a seatbelt and airbags can cause more harm than good to them in an accident. Car safety for unborn children still needs more research because foetal injury and death are rarely part of statistics, but Swedish car manufacturer Volvo has developed a virtual crash test dummy called Linda, which is of average size and approximately “36 weeks pregnant”. Linda simulates how a pregnant woman moves in a crash and how the foetus moves inside her. They also researched how the seatbelt and airbag affect the woman and the foetus. After Linda was used in several simulated frontal collision tests, the conclusion was that everyone should wear a seatbelt – and in the case of pregnant women, it should be used correctly. The virtual tests also proved that airbags offer protection for both the mother and the foetus.
A snug fit
Petro Kruger, director and cofounder of The Road Safety Foundation, explains how seatbelts should be used. “The lap-belt portion should be placed well under your pregnant tummy, snugly fitting over your pelvis and pubic bone and across your hips as high up on your thighs as possible. It’s really important that while driving you constantly check to see the lap belt has not risen up onto your bump,” says Kruger. “The shoulder strap should be positioned off to the side of the uterus and between the breasts. Again it’s important that while driving you routinely check that the shoulder belt is not lying directly over your bump as this could increase the risk of injury to your unborn baby during a high-speed collision.” The aim is to be restrained over the body’s stronger areas, like the upper torso and pelvis, thus protecting the weaker parts of the body, such as the soft abdomen containing the fragile foetus. Kruger advises you make sure the SA National Standards Authority or the European Standards authority has approved your seatbelt.
Sitting pretty
Kruger says it’s advisable to sit as far back from the steering wheel as your legs will allow with the steering wheel tilted, normally downwards, to suit the size of your bump and stature. Your seat should not be too far back to compromise safe driving and control – about a 10cm space between your belly and the steering wheel is recommended.
Air force
“Pregnant women worry unnecessarily about injuries to their unborn baby following deployment of airbags,” says Kruger. “Any injuries that have been reported as a result of airbag deployment are most likely because of sitting too close to the steering wheel, or the incorrect wearing of seatbelts or not wearing one at all.” Kruger emphasises that airbags should never be seen as an alternative to seatbelts.
General safety
  • If you are involved in a car accident, inform emergency medical personnel that you are pregnant.
  • Even if you are involved in a low-speed bumper bash, visit your doctor as soon as possible.
  • Carry a letter from your doctor confirming your pregnancy with your medical aid card. In case of a serious road accident, medical personnel will find this letter when looking for your medical aid details.
Courtesy of The Road Safety Foundation

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