While some pregnancy "no-no's" are pretty well known, like avoiding raw fish and unpasteurized foods, others aren't. For instance, is it safe to drive while you're pregnant? For some women, yes. For others, no. It depends on your situation and your doctor's recommendations. Still, every year about 32,800 pregnant women are involved in motor vehicle crashes, estimates the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via BabyCenter. You can help reduce your chances of being in an accident or getting hurt in one by learning about the unique dangers of driving while pregnant.
Please keep in mind that our goal is to provide you with general, helpful information about car safety and pregnancy. Always consult your doctor before driving while pregnant.
Get Properly Situated Behind the Wheel
Before hitting the road as a pregnant driver, you'll want to make sure you're properly situated in your car. That means checking your seat belt, seat position, and even air bags.
Wear your seat belt
Doctors recommend that you wear a seat belt throughout all stages of your pregnancy, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as it's the "single most effective action you can take to protect yourself and your unborn child in a crash."
Make sure the shoulder belt is away from your neck and across your chest, with the lap belt secured below your belly, advises the NHTSA. The lap belt should never be placed over or on top of your belly.
Adjust your seat position
Like normal, your seat should be in a comfortable, upright position. However, keep as much space between the steering wheel and your belly as you can while still being able to reach the wheel and pedals. If you're in the passenger seat, move your seat as far back as possible.
Don't disable your airbags
Some cars are equipped with airbag disabling switches. According to the NHTSA, doctors recommend that pregnant women wear seat belts and leave their airbags turned on. Together, these two safety features can help protect you and your unborn child. Without them, you could crash into the vehicle's interior, other passengers, or even be thrown from the car.
Drive Cautiously While Pregnant
The risk of a traffic accident rises by about 40% during the second trimester of pregnancy, reports NPR, when a woman's chance for getting into an accident is about the same as someone with sleep apnea.
This increased risk doesn't mean that you must stop driving, just that you should drive more carefully. "Obey stop signs. Don't speed. Minimize distractions — standard safe driving habits," says NPR. While this advice may feel mundane, every one of the crashes studied that involved pregnant women "could have been avoided by a small change in driver behaviors."
Top Safe Driving Tips While Pregnant
To help you stress less and stay safe, check out the follow tips for safe driving while pregnant:
- Consult your doctor if you feel unsafe or uncomfortable driving
- Adjust your seat, seat belt, steering wheel
- Avoid distracted driving (including eating, putting on makeup, etc.)
- Choose to be the passenger as often as possible
- Take breaks to stretch your legs, use the restroom, and refresh your senses
- Drive if your doctor advises against it
- Drive if you're feeling dizzy, tired, or nauseous
- Drive if you think you may be in labor. Call for help right away!
Prepare for your beautiful bundle by learning about child safety in vehicles, the stages of safe seating, and child passenger safety laws. We're serious about safe driving at Direct Auto & Life Insurance, especially when it comes to kids and their families. It's one of the many reasons we offer a safe driver discount.* If you have a long history of being a safe driver and live in a state where this discount is offered, you could be eligible to save up to 10% on your car insurance policy. Call 1-877-GO-DIRECT to see if you qualify today!
*Insurance is underwritten or administered by members of the Direct General Group, Nashville, TN and is only offered in states where we are licensed to do business. You can find this information on our website: directgeneral.com. Discounts may only apply to certain coverages and are subject to terms and conditions and may not be available in all states or distribution channels. Price may vary depending on how you buy.