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Are Seat Belts Unsafe for Pregnant Women Involved in Auto Accidents?

There are about 170,000 car crashes a year that involve pregnant women. When motor vehicle accidents result in serious consequences to the baby, the lack of a seatbelt typically plays a substantial factor approximately 62 percent of the time.  Proper seatbelt use by women who are pregnant could result in prevention of 84 percent of disabling injuries and deaths to fetuses involved in auto collisions.  These statistics were gleaned from a study conducted by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Michigan Health System.

This study conducted by Dr. Mark Pearlman was designed to dispel the myth that women who are pregnant should not wear seat belts.  Approximately 370 fetuses per year are killed in motor vehicle accidents in the U.S.  The study conducted by Dr. Pearlman was intended to challenge the claim by some that seat belt use actually results in an increase in the number of fetal deaths in car accidents.

The study examined 57 automobile crashes that involved pregnant women. The researchers analyzed the impact of seat belts use on pregnancy during auto accidents.  The results of the study produced some interesting findings:

  • In crashes where women were wearing their seat belts incorrectly, 50 percent of women lost their fetus or had major complications.
  • In crashes where women wore no seat belts, 80 percent of women lost their baby, or the fetus had major complications.
  • Only 29 percent of the fetuses were lost or had complications when women wore their seat belts properly.

Seat Belts Can Protect Your Baby

Ironically, most women indicate fear of injury to their unborn child or themselves are the biggest reason why they do not wear a seat belt when they are pregnant.  The validity of this fear is being called into question by studies on pregnancy and seat belts that are being performed around the country.  Another study performed in Utah ended by concluding that pregnant women should still wear safety belts even if it is uncomfortable.  “It’s safer for the baby and the mother,” according to lead author of the study, Lisa Hyde.  The Utah study, published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, concluded that pregnant drivers who did not wear a seat belt when involved in a car crash were nearly three times more likely to experience a fetal death, and twice as likely to experience excessive internal bleeding than women that wore their seat belts.

Simple physics explains why seat belt use is less of a risk to a fetus than the impact from a collision in which a pregnant woman is unbuckled.  During a crash, the pregnant mother will continue to move at the speed of the vehicle at the time of impact.  A pregnant woman who weighs 130 pounds who collides with the steering wheel in an auto accident while going 25 miles per hour will result in a crash force of approximately 1.5 tons of force.

Using the Seat Belt Correctly

There is a correct way for pregnant women to wear seat belts that is recommended by the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.  These organizations suggest that the lap belt should be placed snugly under the abdomen, and the shoulder belt should be placed diagonally across the chest.  The system should always be a three-point restraint system as described above, and seat belts should never go directly across a pregnant woman’s stomach.

If you are involved in an auto accident where you sustain injuries, you should seek medical attention right away and get your medical condition and that of your unborn child assessed.  If you have been injured by a careless or inattentive driver, the Florida Auto Accident Lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano offer the assistance you need to obtain the results you desire.  With over 130 collective years of experience representing motor vehicle collision victims across South Florida, our firm provides legal representation of unmatched excellence.  Contact our firm as soon as possible to start on the road to protecting your legal rights.  Our firm received an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and was ranked as a top firm in South Florida by the Miami Herald.   Put our traffic accident lawyers to work on your case.  Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or you can visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.


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