Driving While Pregnant—US Laws and How to Stay Safe on the Road

Pregnant women are often inundated with information about what they need to do to ensure that their unborn child will be as safe and healthy as possible when born. With so much misinformation around, it can be really overwhelming for women to know what they need to do when they are pregnant and what they are not allowed to do.

While driving and being pregnant may seem dangerous, it can be done by pregnant women without putting the baby or the mother at risk. Learning about the laws about driving while pregnant and how to stay safe when behind the wheel of a car will give expecting mothers the peace of mind that they deserve when on the road.

Is it Legal to Drive While Pregnant?

While pregnant women can become injured if they are in a car crash, this does not mean that pregnant women have to give up driving until the baby is born. Of course, some women may simply feel more comfortable not driving, especially if they have trouble fitting behind the wheel of a car, but there is no law that prohibits women from driving when they are pregnant.

As long as a pregnant woman is comfortable, is able to easily fit behind the wheel of the car, can reach everything she needs to, and is able to safely drive as usual, then she is fine to drive during her pregnancy.

Some women find that they are simply too uncomfortable to drive, due to the way that the seat belt presses against their stomach or because of the angles of the seat. This is really common when women drive vehicles that have bucket seats, as they can push on the belly from underneath, which is uncomfortable.

There may be some cases where a pregnant woman has another medical problem that will prevent them from being able to drive safely, but that is generally unrelated to the pregnancy. Since there are no laws prohibiting pregnant women from being able to drive, it’s up to the woman and her doctor to determine if there is a medical reason for her not to drive.

What to Do About the Seatbelt

One common question that pregnant women have is if they should continue to wear a seatbelt when driving, especially when it becomes uncomfortable and is difficult to wrap around the belly. However uncomfortable a seatbelt is, it is the law to wear one while driving a car, and so women need to continue to wear this safety device. By protecting the mother in the event of an accident, a seat belt also helps to protect the baby. Seat belts are designed to keep the mother from exiting her seat in an accident and will prevent full ejection from the vehicle. By wearing a seatbelt, pregnant women can take steps to ensure that their baby will be protected in the event of an accident. Some women are concerned that wearing a seatbelt while pregnant can cause injury, and this is, unfortunately true. However, not wearing a seatbelt can cause greater injury to both the mother and the child. Even though seatbelts press against the lower stomach when they are engaged in an accident, it is still much safer for the mother and child to be restrained by a seatbelt than to possibly be ejected from the vehicle. There are also seatbelt designs out there that are specifically designed for a pregnant woman. These maternity car belts utilize your existing car seatbelts but moving the belt that goes around your belly to instead go along your legs removing the pressure away from your belly.

Correctly Adjusting the Car

Pregnant women need to make sure not only that they can easily reach the pedals when driving, but also that the steering wheel is adjusted up and away from their belly. This will prevent it from pushing into the belly if they are in an accident, which can be harmful to the baby.

Additionally, it’s important to keep the airbag angled up to the chest. Since the driver’s side airbag is generally located in the steering wheel, this means that pregnant women should angle the steering wheel up.

While some people think that airbags will greatly injure pregnant women and their babies, they are actually imperative to help prevent major damage in the event of an accident. It’s important that pregnant women drive a vehicle with fully functioning airbags that will go off in an accident to help prevent even more problems from occurring.

How to Avoid Being Dangerous on the Road

There are a few things that pregnant women can do to decrease the chance of being injured on the road and to ensure that they are safe for other drivers when driving a car. As long as the doctor hasn’t placed any limitations on a pregnant woman, she is safe to drive, but it’s important for her to always be aware of her own body. Any sudden sleepiness needs to be taken into consideration, as this can cause a pregnant woman to fall asleep at the wheel.

Additionally, pregnant women need to make sure that they adjust the seat in the car so that they are comfortable, but still able to easily reach the pedals. It’s important that the steering wheel fit in front of the stomach, but that the driver can easily reach the gas and brake, or she will possibly be a danger on the road.

Finally, pregnant women need to remember that if they experience pregnancy pain or think that they are in labor that they need to pull over and let someone else drive instead. This is the ultimate case of distracted driving and is very likely to end in an accident.

What to Do as the Due Date Approaches

While driving throughout pregnancy is legal and generally perfectly safe, pregnant women need to take a few things into consideration as they get closer to their due date. First, it’s a good idea to make sure to always stay close to the local hospital. This will ensure that any medical problems will be quickly addressed by a doctor.
Additionally, pregnant women need to keep a cell phone with them at all times so that they can call for help if they go into labor on the road. Driving while in labor is worse than driving on the telephone and can easily put everyone else on the road in danger of being in an accident.

Finally, as the due date gets closer and a woman’s belly gets larger, she needs to reevaluate her ability to drive and whether or not it is a good idea for her. Just because it is legal to drive while pregnant doesn’t mean that all pregnant women are safe when on the road. If it’s difficult to reach the pedals or the belly will interfere with the airbag, then it’s time to let someone else drive instead.

Pregnant women can easily drive throughout their pregnancy, as long as they are careful when behind the wheel of a car and as long as they take the safety of other drivers into consideration. By educating themselves about how to stay safe behind the wheel, how to adjust the wheel and seat, and signs that they should stop driving, pregnant women can get the peace of mind that they need when driving. While pregnant women do need to take a few things into consideration to ensure that they, their unborn baby, and other drivers are as safe as possible, there isn’t any reason why they shouldn’t be able to drive.

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