Expectant mothers are already warned to avoid a long list of things, from hot tubs to sushi. Driving, however, isn’t usually listed as a hazard. That may change though. It turns out that driving while you’re pregnant is riskier than most people think. Having a car accident while pregnant is a serious matter.
In the US, there are 170,000 car crashes involving pregnant women every year. A study in Canada showed that expecting mothers are more likely than non-pregnant women to have serious car crashes. The research team analyzed the medical records of 500,000 Ontario mothers and looked at data for the years before and after their children were born. The team found that during the first trimester, the accident risk was about the same as before the pregnancy. However, in the second trimester, the risk rose a whopping 42%. Furthermore, ER visits by pregnant women due to traffic accidents rose from 4.3 visits per 1,000 women per year to 7.7 visits.
According to an article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, pregnancy causes diverse physiologic and lifestyle changes that may contribute to increased driving and driving errors. This doesn’t mean, however, that pregnant women should let their husbands or male partners do all the driving for three months. The authors of the study say that “young adult men are even more dangerous behind the wheel.”
The study didn’t examine why women in their second trimester are more likely to get into accidents, but the author opined that it might be due to hormonal changes that cause fatigue, insomnia, nausea, and stress. All of these things can lead to driving errors.
How Pregnant Women Can Reduce Their Risk for Injury
Women who are pregnant can reduce their risk of accidents by following basic safety precautions all drivers should follow:
- Obey stop signs
- Observe speed limits
- Minimize distractions—and never use a handheld cell phone while driving
- ALWAYS wear seatbelts and shoulder belts
According to the March of Dimes, a pregnant woman should buckle the belt under her belly and over her hips—resting the shoulder belt between her breasts and off to the side of her body. Pregnant women should never place their shoulder belts under their arms. A pregnant woman shouldn’t deactivate her car’s airbags but should move her seat back far away from the dashboard or steering wheel.
In an accident, the more serious the injuries to the mother, the greater the risk to the unborn child. If a pregnant woman is involved in an accident, the pregnancy can complicate the diagnosis and treatment of her injuries. For example, CT scans of the abdomen are not recommended for pregnant women.
Some serious warning signs of a possible injury to a mother or fetus include:
- Premature contractions
- Abdominal pain
- Leaking blood or fluid
A pregnant woman who is in a car accident can be at risk for:
- Preterm labor
- Other complications
We represented one client whose car was rear-ended while she was stopped. The other car was traveling at 40 miles per hour. The mother suffered a concussion and cervical strain and a few days later experienced a miscarriage.
It’s especially important for a pregnant woman who has been in an accident to seek medical treatment right away, even if she thinks she isn’t injured or that her injuries are minor and will heal on their own.
If you’ve been in a car accident while pregnant, contact Thompson Law Firm in Chandler, AZ to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.
We provide personal injury legal services to clients in the greater Phoenix area including Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, Maricopa, Globe, and Queen Creek.