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Friday, 30 March 2012

Mind the bump on the road: road safety advice for pregnant drivers

Photo by ‘Haven’t the slightest

You can still drive safely in the late stages of pregnancy although Scottish driver Emma French did cut things a bit fine when she sat her driving test in October 2011. 
It was reported that Emma’s waters broke four hours before she was due to take her driving test. She still sat the test and passed with just ten minor faults before driving herself to hospital and giving birth to healthy baby Eva.

It is hoped that Emma followed the following safety advice while learning to drive in the months before she gave birth – advice which will safeguard you and your unborn baby’s safety on the roads.

1. Put a belt over the bump 

Did you know that wearing a seat belt lowers the risk of injury to your unborn child by up to 70 per cent? The statistic comes from the direct.gov.uk website which states that the wearing of a seat belt if you are pregnant is compulsory. The only exception occurs when your doctor issues you with a certificate of exemption on medical grounds.

The website advises that if you are a pregnant driver you should ensure your comfort and safety by:

· Placing a diagonal strap between your breasts, positioning it around the side of your bump

· Lowering the lap strap as much as possible across the hips and under the bump. Is it over your belly button? Then it’s too high!

Research conducted by Loughborough University in 2001 found that 87 per cent of pregnant women wear seatbelts incorrectly. Following the advice given above should mean that you don’t become one of the unsafe majority.

2. Adjust the car’s environment 

As the pregnancy advances you will need to adjust your car’s environment. Inevitably, you will need to push the driving seat back – the Sussex Safer Roads campaign stresses that this can alter your view of the car’s mirrors so make sure that you can see clearly out of them before you drive off. It is also vital to ensure that, after moving the seat back, you don’t have to stretch too much to use the wheel. Sit as far back from the airbag as possible so that you can lower the risk of injury even further.

3. Tell your boss

If you are pregnant and your job involves driving it is always a good idea to tell your boss. UK working regulations state that your employer will be required to undertake a risk assessment of the work to be carried out by an employee who is pregnant. It is their responsibility to ensure your working environment – especially if it is the inside of a car – is safe.

4. Preparing for baby’s arrival 

If you’re leaving hospital by car after you have a baby your new child must be seated in an appropriate car seat. The website childcarseats.org.uk stresses that babies should be in rearward-facing baby seats until they weigh at least 9kgs and can sit up unaided. “Keep them in a rearward-facing seat for as long as possible” the website states.

It is always a good idea to buy a child seat from a retailer who will fit it for you. Many retailers are happy for customers to return after the birth of a child to double-check the seat’s fitting.

Whoever fits your seat, make sure that you don’t buy a second-hand one; you can’t be sure of its history and whether it’s been damaged in a crash before.

5. Look after yourself

When the pregnancy test shows a positive result it is time to start thinking about your safety as well as that of your child’s. Take plenty of breaks while on long journeys and if you haven’t got breakdown cover already now is the time to investigate taking out a policy. This is something which could prove invaluable further down the road – whether you’re pregnant or not!

This is a sponsored post by James Christie who writes for GEM Motoring Assist: a road safety organisation which provides breakdown cover