DENVER (KDVR) — The Colorado Department of Transportation is reminding drivers that keeping kids safe while traveling in a vehicle starts before the baby arrives.
UCHealth Emergency Medical Services and the Hudson Center for Prenatal Vehicle Safety completed 1,712 prenatal seat belt checks and found that only 32% of pregnant drivers and passengers were using seat belts correctly, according to CDOT.
UCHealth said many pregnant people use their seat belts wrong without even knowing it.
Car crashes are a leading cause of fetal injury and death in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. CDOT said if all pregnant drivers and passengers wore their seat belts correctly, fetal loss from car crashes could decline by more than 50%.
UCHealth EMS said mortality is only part of the issue.
“For prenatal patients, motor vehicle crashes lead to higher rates of premature rupture of membranes, placental abruption, premature birth and low birth weight,” UCHealth EMS spokesperson Gregory Colton said.
How to wear a seat belt when pregnant
CDOT provided the following tips for proper seat belt use as recommended by NHTSA and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Seat belt fit
- Lap belt placed low under the curve of the belly and resting on the hips
- Shoulder belt to the side of the belly and diagonally across the center of the chest
- Shoulder belt crossing the middle of the clavicle, resting on the shoulder
Vehicle seat adjustment
- Seat back upright, or as upright as the pregnant person can tolerate
- Seat adjusted back so the belly does not press against the steering wheel and there is at least 10 inches of space between the center of the steering wheel and the chest
- Seat also close enough so the pregnant driver can press the brake pedal to the floor
- Tilted so the airbag is directed toward the chest, not the belly or face
- Steering column distance adjusted so driver can comfortably reach the top of the steering wheel while providing space for airbag deployment
CDOT said if you are in a crash when pregnant, you should seek medical attention immediately and notify your parental care provider, even if you do not feel injured.