Belt protects mum and unborn baby, says Helen O’Callaghan.
IT’S a sobering statistic — expectant mums who don’t wear a seatbelt are almost three times more likely to experience the death of their unborn child in a crash, compared to ‘belted’ mothers.
It’s why the Road Safety Authority (RSA) has produced a short video showing how to correctly wear a seatbelt while pregnant.
“We’re asked quite a bit by pregnant women what they need to consider around how to wear their seatbelt,” says the RSA’s Aisling Leonard.
As the bump gets bigger, she urges women to be mindful of the role played by the seatbelt in protecting mum and unborn baby.
She advises first getting comfortable in your seat before fastening the seatbelt loosely across the body. Then follow four steps for correct seatbelt positioning:
* Place lap section of belt flat on thighs, fitting comfortably underneath baby bump, and over pelvis.
* Place shoulder belt across chest area with strap resting over shoulder, not your neck. On the buckle side — if done correctly — it should naturally rest to the side of bump.
* Wear seatbelt as tightly as possible — pull tight on the lap belt and feed this slack up towards shoulder. This ensures forces applied in a sudden impact can be absorbed by the body’s frame and not by your bump.
* Avoid wearing ‘lap-only’ seatbelts rather than regular three-point seatbelt.
Also pay attention to seating position — ensure a good distance between the pregnant mother’s abdomen and steering wheel.
Adjust the steering wheel/seat as pregnancy progresses. Adjusting the seat to maintain a suitable distance from airbags is also advised.
Meanwhile, with children likely to be more in the car during school holidays, bear in mind that research from 1996-2012 found that children most at risk of being killed on the road from May to August and from 4-6pm, with Friday the high-risk day.
And research from Australia’s Monash University found children 12 times more distracting to a driver than talking on a phone while driving.
This inspired the RSA’s Looking Back campaign. “A child screams at a parent to get their toy or food off the floor — the parent’s tempted to look back. We urge parents not to spend a lifetime looking back [in regret],” says Leonard.
“Parents believe they’re doing the right thing by attending to the child’s needs immediately, not realising the danger they’re putting them in by doing so.”
* Explain to a child that it’s vital for everyone’s safety that you focus on the road while driving.
* Ensure a child is using a restraint appropriate to their height/ weight and that they’re comfortable. RSA’s Check It Fits service has checked over 25,000 car seats since 2013.
* Children should visit the bathroom before car journeys and have access to drinks/snacks.
* If distracted find a safe place to pull over and address the problem before continuing.
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