Heels & Horsepower Magazine


8 Frequently Asked Questions About Pregnancy Car Safety

Why is it important to wear a seat belt when I travel during pregnancy?

Although your fetus is protected inside your body, you should wear a lap and shoulder belt every time you travel while you are pregnant for the best protection, including in your final weeks of pregnancy. You and your fetus are much more likely to survive a car accident when you are buckled in.

How should I wear a seat belt while I am pregnant?

When wearing a seat belt, follow these rules:

  • Buckle the lap belt below your belly so that it fits snugly across your hips and pelvic bone.
  • Place the shoulder belt across your chest (between your breasts) and over the mid-portion of your collar bone (away from your neck).
  • Never place the shoulder belt under your arm or behind your back.
  • Pull any slack (looseness) out of the belt.
  • If you are in an accident, seek medical attention right away, even if you are not injured.

What should I know about air bags when I travel in a car?

Follow these tips if your car has air bags:

  • Keep 10 inches between the steering wheel and your breastbone.
  • If the car has an air bag “on/off” switch, check to be sure it is turned to “on.”
  • As your belly grows, you may not be able to keep as much space between you and the steering wheel. If the car has a tilt steering wheel, make sure it is angled toward your breastbone, not your belly or head.

If I am pregnant, when should I buy a car seat for my baby?

You cannot take your newborn home from the hospital without a car seat. Plan to have the car seat at least 3 weeks before your due date so you will have time to install it correctly and learn how to buckle the baby in safely.

Where should child car seats be installed in the car?

All car seats for children should be used in the back seat of the car—never in the front seat. Air bags in the front seat can cause serious injury to children. Until they reach age 13 years, children should always ride in the back seat.

What types of car seats are available for infants, toddlers, and school-aged children?j

  1. Rear-facing car seat—In a rear-facing car seat, the baby is turned to face the back windshield of the car. Infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car seat until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight and height allowed by their car seat’s maker.
  2. Forward-facing car seat—A forward-facing car seat faces the front windshield of the car. Toddlers and preschoolers who have outgrown the height and weight limit of the rear-facing seat should use a forward-facing seat.
  3. Booster seat—A booster seat raises and positions your child so that the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belts fit properly. Your child should use a booster seat until the car seat belts fit properly. This usually occurs when the child is between the ages of 8 years and 12 years and is at least 4 feet 9 inches in height.

What should I keep in mind when choosing a car seat?

  • Know whether your car has the LATCH system. LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. Instead of seat belts, special anchors hold the seat in place. If your car and car seat do not have the LATCH system, you will need to use seat belts to install the car seat.
  • Try locking and unlocking the buckle while you are in the store. Try changing the lengths of the straps.
  • Read the labels to find out the seat’s height and weight limits.

What should I know if I am considering buying a used car seat?

  • Do not buy a used car seat if you know it has been in a car crash. Also, used car seats may be missing parts or instructions.
  • Avoid a used car seat that looks old or worn or is missing labels with the model number and maker’s name. Keep in mind that car seats have expiration dates.
  • You can check the expiration date for any car seat on the maker’s web site.

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