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Author’s note: I wrote this blog last night and scheduled it for posting this afternoon. Since then the issue gained poignancy as reports came in that pregnant actress Tori Spelling was involved in a car accident yesterday morning. She reported by twitter that she was being chased by paparazzi while taking her children to school and was in "a pretty big accident." She apparently lost control of the vehicle while reversing and "[t]ook down (a) whole wall of (the) school." The good news: early reports are that Spelling and her kids are unhurt.

Every year there are almost 170,000 car crashes involving pregnant women. Over the years I’ve represented many women who were injured in car crashes while pregnant. Fortunately most went on to have uneventful deliveries and healthy babies.

One of the things I learned from these cases is that pregnant women can reduce the risk of injury to themselves and their unborn children in a car crash by carefully adjusting the seat and seat belts. The March of Dimes recommends the following:

  • Always wear both the lap and shoulder belt.
  • Buckle the lap strap under your belly and over your hips.
  • Never place the lap belt across your belly.
  • Rest the shoulder belt between your breasts and off to the side of your belly.
  • Never place the shoulder belt under your arm.
  • If possible, adjust the shoulder belt height to fit you correctly.
  • Make sure the seat belt fits snugly.

You should also keep your airbags activated and adjust your seat as far back as possible while still being able to comfortable reach the controls and pedals.

Here’s a great guide from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

Image: Guide to Safe Seat Belt Use When Pregnant by NHTSA

NHTSA image

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