What Driving Safety Tips Should I Keep in Mind if I Am Pregnant?

driving pregnant

The moment you see the plus sign on a pregnancy test, there are certain activities you will have to stop doing, at least for the next nine months or so. For example, although you do not have to stop going out to bars or restaurants with friends, you should avoid drinking alcohol or smoking. In addition, certain foods such as shellfish or unpasteurized cheese should be avoided. Even normal everyday activities like driving can cause health risks to you and your unborn baby if you do not take the necessary safety precautions throughout your pregnancy. By understanding these risks and taking proactive steps to make safety a top priority, you can avoid a serious car accident and protect your most precious cargo. If you are involved in an accident, do not hesitate to contact a skilled car accident lawyer as soon as possible.

What Are the Risks of Driving While Pregnant?

According to a 2014 study, pregnant women are more likely to be involved in a serious car accident, particularly women who are in their second trimesters. In fact, during the first trimester, the risk of an accident was comparable with the risk prior to pregnancy. However, during the second trimester, the risk of being involved in a serious accident increased by 42 percent. During the third trimester, the risk drops again and is even lower after the baby is born. Researchers believe that one of the main reasons for the increase is the significant hormonal changes that occur during the second trimester. It is common for women to experience hormone-related sleep deprivation and fatigue, which can increase the risk of drowsy driving and distracted driving accidents

What Do I Need to Know about Seat Belt Safety When I Am Pregnant?

All motorists are strongly urged to wear seat belts every time they ride in a car, regardless of whether they are the driver, the front seat passenger, or they are sitting in the back seat. Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest and most effective things people can do to prevent serious injuries and fatalities resulting from car accidents. Although it is just as important for pregnant motorists to wear a seat belt at all times, there are some important safety tips that you should keep in mind if you are driving while pregnant, including the following:

  • Always use a seat belt that has both a lap and a shoulder belt.
  • Never place the lap belt across your stomach.
  • The seat belt should be placed under your stomach and across your hip bones.
  • Your chest should be secured against the seat by placing the shoulder belt between your breasts.
  • Keep your stomach a safe distance from the airbag while you are driving.
  • As your stomach grows, make sure that you adjust the seat so that it remains at least 10 inches away from the steering wheel or dashboard.
  • Consider using a seat belt positioner during your pregnancy. This can help ensure that you are safely secured, and that the belt is not lying across your growing belly.

When Should I Avoid Driving if I Am Pregnant?

According to an emergency room doctor who also led the study on the risks of driving while pregnant, women should not necessarily stop driving altogether and hand over the car keys to their husbands or partners. In fact, young adult men are more likely to get into a car accident than pregnant women. However, there are situations in which you should avoid driving, including the following:

  • You are experiencing severe nausea. Morning sickness can cause extreme nausea, to the point at which it is difficult to get out of bed or be a stone’s throw away from the bathroom. If you are suffering from severe morning sickness, do not get behind the wheel of a car. In addition to the nausea, morning sickness can cause dizziness and lightheadedness, which is very dangerous if you are driving.
  • You cannot get into a safe driving position. This is more likely to occur in the third trimester when your growing belly requires you to adjust the seat position so that your stomach is a safe distance from the steering wheel. However, if you have to move the seat so far back that you can no longer reach the brake pedal, you should avoid driving. In addition, if you are no longer able to turn around to check your blind spots, or you are experiencing extreme back pain or intestinal discomfort, it may be time to hand over your keys until after the baby is born.
  • You are unable to make frequent stops. In addition to needing to go to the bathroom more frequently when you are pregnant, you are at an increased risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is a blood clot that can travel from the leg to your lungs. In extreme cases, this can be fatal. The best way to avoid a DVT is to drink plenty of water, stretch, and keep the blood flowing. That means getting out of the car, taking multiple stretch breaks, and going to the bathroom whenever you need to stop.

What Are Examples of Pregnancy Injuries that Are Caused by Car Accidents?

Pregnant women can suffer the same injuries that other motorists suffer, including cuts and lacerations, broken bones, head injuries, and internal bleeding. However, they are also at risk for the following pregnancy-related injuries if they are involved in a serious car accident:

  • Miscarriage: When you are pregnant, the growing fetus is protected by amniotic fluid. However, if the impact of a car accident punctures the uterus or causes you to go into cardiac arrest, it can cause a miscarriage.
  • Premature birth: In the United States, approximately one out of every eight births are premature, which means that the baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. If you are in a car accident, the stress and strain that your body faces, particularly if your injuries are serious, can lead to a premature birth.
  • Birth defects: If your baby suffered an injury while in utero, he or she may be at an increased risk of suffering birth defects and long-term disabilities.
  • Uterine injuries: Any type of abdominal trauma, including those caused by a car accident, can cause uterine injuries that can cause severe internal bleeding. In extreme cases, a uterine rupture can have fatal consequences for the mother and the fetus.
  • Coup and contrecoup injuries: A coup injury occurs when a moving object strikes your head, whereas a contrecoup injury occurs when your head is moving and it strikes a stationary object, both of which are common in car accidents. Although you are more likely to suffer one of these injuries than your unborn baby, a fetus can also experience both injuries in a car accident.
  • High-risk pregnancy: In some cases, a pregnant woman may be characterized as high risk because of a range of factors such as the mother’s age or any preexisting health conditions. However, problems caused by a car accident can also result in a pregnancy becoming high risk.
  • Placental abruption: When the placenta partially or entirely separates from the uterus before birth, this is a very serious injury. The impact of a car accident can increase the risk of a placental abruption.
  • Fetal trauma: If a car accident caused abdominal trauma, lack of oxygen, or other serious injuries, the fetus can suffer injuries to the brain or other parts of the body, resulting in fetal trauma.

What Precautions Should I Take If I Am Driving While Pregnant?

When it comes to driving while pregnant, there is no such thing as being overly cautious. Therefore, you should take the following precautions anytime you are driving:

  • Keep plenty of healthy snacks on hand. To avoid feeling dehydrated or hungry, always bring plenty of water and keep healthy snacks in your purse and/or in the car, including fresh fruit, crackers, granola bars, and trail mix. If you suffer from morning sickness, keep saltines, ginger ale, and mints or gum on hand.
  • Put your phone away. Do not make any phone calls or send any text messages while you are driving. Pregnancy hormones can cause you to lose focus and become distracted, so avoid any behavior that takes your attention away from the road.
  • Seek immediate medical attention after an accident. This is important even if you were involved in a minor fender-bender. Call your obstetrician-gynecologist and request an examination as soon as possible.

Baltimore Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Pregnant Motorists Who Have Been Injured in a Car Accident

If you were involved in a car accident and you or your unborn baby suffered a serious injury, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We understand how devastating it is when you or your baby’s health and safety are compromised, particularly when the accident could have been avoided. We will investigate the details of the accident, determine whether negligence was involved, and secure the financial compensation for which you are entitled for your injuries. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.