Pregnant drivers might want to read a column by Sharon Silke in USA Today’s about car accidents and the risk of fetal death entitled “Researching trying to protect pregnant drivers.” In the article Silke discusses how Ford Motor company is funding research at Virginia Tech and Wake Forest universities to determine how car accident affect pregnant women and their unborn babies.
The number of fetuses that die each year due to car accidents is estimated by Virginia Tech researcher, Stefan Duma, to be between 300 to 1,000. The problem is that States do not always collect data about fetal death in the Federal Fatal Accidents (FARS) system.
Pregnant women who are involved in car accidents face the danger of a placental abruption which is a catastrophe caused when the placenta separates from the uterus. It is a significant cause of maternal death and death to the fetus.
Recommendations for Pregnant Drivers
Leading experts recommend that to be safe, pregnant drivers should:
- Move the driver’s seat as far back from the steering wheel as possible
- Make sure that there is at least 10 inches clearing between the steering wheel and breast bone
- Make sure the lap belt is below the belly and the shoulder belt between the breasts.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into re-designing seat belt regulations which could protect pregnant drivers in addition to researching the effect of airbags on pregnant women.