Washington state’s first seat belt laws took effect in 1986, but it wasn’t until 2002 that it became a “primary offense”, or an infraction that allowed patrol officers to enforce on its own. And although now wearing seat belts is fairly common at around 85% compliance, during the first years people were slow to adopt the new law because the “one-size-fits-all” approach to seat belts can be pretty uncomfortable.
And if the average person is uncomfortable wearing a seat belt, imagine having to wear one while pregnant and in your third trimester, in other words when the “bun is in the oven” and almost ready. The body is swollen, momma is feeling heartburn, and her backaches are increasing as her belly increases. But as uncomfortable as it may feel, pregnant women should always wear a seat belt properly when riding in a car to protect themselves and their unborn children from injury should a collision occur.
If you are pregnant here are some tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on how to wear a seat belt to protect you and your unborn child.
• The shoulder belt should be worn away from your neck (but not off your shoulder) and across your chest (between your breasts), making sure to remove any slack from your seat belt with the lap belt secured below your belly so that it fits snugly across your hips and pelvic bone.
• NEVER place the shoulder belt under your arm or behind your back.
• NEVER place lap belt over or on top of your belly.
See the below picture for examples of what is safe and what isn’t.
If you are pregnant and were involved in a collision in the Tri-Cities or surrounding areas, seek medical attention right away because even the emotional strain of being involved in a car accident can affect your unborn child.