Seat belts during pregnancy. Yes or no?

Seat belts during pregnancy. Yes or no?
It takes approx. 5 minutes to read this article

According to the law, a woman who is visibly pregnant does not have to wear a seat belt. Is this really a good solution? Many believe that the law should be changed!

In the road traffic law – specifically in Article 39 Paragraph 2 of the Act of 20 June 1997 – it is clearly stated that the obligation to wear seat belts does not apply to

  • persons with a medical certificate, where contraindications to the wearing of seat belts are clearly written;
  • medical teams when providing assistance to the injured;
  • visibly pregnant women – the subsection we are interested in;
  • cab drivers when carrying a passenger
  • sick or disabled persons in wheelchairs or on stretchers
  • instructors or examiners in the course of their training or driving test
  • escorts when carrying money.

A very important aspect – it is about a visible pregnancy. Who decides whether a woman has such a pregnancy? A policeman during an inspection, which already raises some doubts. A woman may not be comfortable in the seat belt already at the beginning of the second trimester. However, during the check it may turn out that in the policeman’s opinion she is not yet visibly pregnant – fine guaranteed. Another contentious issue is the legal suggestion itself. Such a provision may mislead women. “Since there is no such law, I do not wear a seat belt” – a normal thing, many women argue this decision in this way. After all, it is not about the belts themselves, but the safety of the woman and the unborn child.

Systems in the car – airbags without belts will not work

“Since I don’t have a seatbelt, an airbag will protect me in an accident.” Unfortunately, this is not the case, especially the frontal one. Belt and airbag systems are one integrated whole. When a woman fails to buckle up, the airbag will not deploy – a dramatic situation. Many tests and studies have shown that seat belts should also be worn by pregnant women. During an accident, this can save the woman, but also the unborn child. Interestingly, statistically, more unborn children die in accidents than newborns and children in car seats. This is largely due to the failure of expectant mothers to wear seat belts. How do the ladies argue this? Mostly they talk about the discomfort they feel while driving. Of course this is true, but should lack of comfort be put before health and life? I think everyone will agree that it can not be so.

Crash tests in favor of belts

Volvo is one of the brands that has always been associated with safety. It was this company that first introduced the 3-point belt, which later began to be used by all car corporations in the world. Experts from this company conducted crash tests involving a virtual pregnant mannequin. In almost all cases, failure to buckle up meant serious injury to the woman and the unborn child, often including death. Interestingly, when the belts were fastened, there was little injury to the mother, while the baby was often unharmed! It is worth to draw conclusions from this.

Recommendations – how to properly wear seat belts during pregnancy?

After the tests, Volvo experts have prepared several recommendations for pregnant women. They include, of course, how to properly wear seat belts, here they are:

  • even for short distances, the belt should fit as snugly as possible. No travelling in bulky clothes. In the winter, it is advisable to remove outer clothing (thick jacket, coat) before fastening the seat belt;
  • the seat should be set as comfortably as possible. The pedal should not be difficult to depress. The abdomen should be at an appropriate distance from the steering wheel. Your back should be against the seat; it is also a good idea to keep your shoulders straight;
  • lap belt – the one you will hear the most about in the context of pregnant women – it should go around the woman under her belly, about knee height (when the future mother is in a sitting position);
  • shoulder girdle – this part should be drawn between the breasts up to the side of the abdomen. This belt must not be under the shoulder or behind the back. This will be a tragic setting during an accident;
  • using adapters is a way to conveniently position the seat belts. Unfortunately, this solution is not yet so popular in Poland, in other countries it is widely used and even recommended.

There can be only one conclusion. Fastening seat belts (even if the law does not require it) is a guarantee of greater safety for the woman and the unborn child. One should remember about correct positioning of the lap and shoulder belts. It is also advisable to use adapters to increase comfort during the ride!

(Photo by Pablo Cuadra/Getty Image)

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