Seat Belt Use for the Expecting Mother

256px-Pregnant_woman_(2)Should I wear my seat belt while pregnant?

If an expectant mother has been online, it may be she has come across articles mentioning the possibility of fetal death due to an auto accident causing seat belt tightening that injures the fetus. While this can occur, the risk of fetal death and the death of the mother increases significantly without the use of a seat belt.  Seat belt use for the expecting mother is a must. So, buckle-up moms!

How should I wear the seat belt while pregnant?

If you are in the front seat you car most likely has the three-point system (lap strap and shoulder strap.)  Place the lap strap under your belly but across your hips as high as possible on your thighs. Please the shoulder strap between your breasts.  Do NOT put the seat belt directly across your belly.


I have an air bag in my car. Isn’t that enough protection?

Car manufactures factor in the use of a seat belt with the airbag.  In other words, the manufacturer expects that our seat belt is in use and is holding our body back from a rapidly exploding air bag. Without the seat belt, the airbag can strike the person with greater force than the design intended which can cause greater damage to the mother or fetus that would not have occurred otherwise. Airbags were not meant to replace the use of a seat belt.

Should I re-position my seat now that I am pregnant?

Keeping distance between your steering wheel and belly is a good idea. As you baby grows, keep your seat back as far as possible but while still making sure you can reach the pedals comfortably.  Some autos have a button that will adjust the height of the pedals so that shorter women do not have to sit as close to the steering wheel.  Check if your car has this feature!

Should I re-position the steering wheel now that I am pregnant?

As your baby bump grows, expectant mothers need to re-position things in the car. Re-positioning the steering wheel helps keep distance between your fetal cargo and the steering wheel. Tilting the steering wheel upwards can also keep the airbag from exploding towards the belly and more towards your face.

 If I am a passenger in the back seat, where should I sit?

It is unclear that a certain position in the back seat will guarantee greater safety.  However, studies show that back seat passengers often suffer less than front seat passengers involved in car accidents.

Should I purchase a seat belt position device marketed specifically for pregnant women?

It should be noted that while most companies selling such products will include some photos of a ‘test pregnant dummy’ there has been no actual crash test standards applied to many of these devices.  Additionally, no government standards are in place for seat belt position devices marketed for pregnant women.  Any study done by the manufacturer of such device is testing on a pregnant test dummy which are not built yet to properly test fetal impact.  Additionally, some of these devices are essentially pillows  through a seat belt which encourages the mother to keep the seat belt on her belly which is the most dangerous place for the seat belt to be.

I’m Ed Smith, an Elk Grove Auto Accident Lawyer, and founder of, the most comprehensive California vehicle accident site.  I’ve practiced in Sacramento and Elk Grove since 1982, am rated 10.0 by Avvo, the personal injury attorney rating site and also have the highest Yelp rating.  We call ourselves the “Personal” Personal Injury Lawyers because we take pride in connecting with our clients throughout their case, no matter how long it takes to resolve.  If you are an expectant mother that was involved in a car accident, call me at 916-694-0002 or 800-404-5400 for free, friendly advice.


Image Attribution: By David Roseborough from Los Angeles, United States [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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