Compared to the average motorist, pregnant women face additional safety concerns when riding in motor vehicles. A frequent question is whether they can ride safely in front of air bags, reports the National Safety Council. Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists recommend that pregnant women wear a three-point safety belt and not disconnect the air bag.
Preliminary research by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) supports these recommendations. According to UMTRI engineer Kathy Klinich, pregnant women drivers should do the following:
- On a three-point safety belt, always position the lap belt portion as low on the abdomen as possible. The shoulder belt should be routed over the sternum.
- Leave the air bag operational.
- Drive a vehicle that allows the most clearance between the steering wheel and abdomen.
- Remove or adjust coats to make sure they do not interfere with low placement of the lap belt.
- Minimize driving in hazardous conditions, such as in bad weather or on icy roads.
- Position the steering wheel to maximize abdomen-to-wheel clearance, while aiming it more toward the chest than the head.
- When possible, ride as a passenger rather than drive to avoid potential contact with the steering wheel.