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Pregnant Colorado Drivers Are Not Wearing Seatbelts Correctly

by  on  Car Accidents & Motor Vehicle Collisions

Many pregnant women are putting themselves and their unborn children at risk when they get behind the wheels of their vehicles, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Only about 32 percent of pregnant women across the state are properly wearing seatbelts, a new study shows. Many are unknowingly buckling up incorrectly, CDOT and Colorado State Patrol said.

“Seat belts are our first line of defense in a vehicle in the event of a crash,” said Darrell Lingk, CDOT’s director of highway safety. “However, their effectiveness hinges on being worn correctly, which can be complex given the unique physical changes that occur during pregnancy.”

Proper use of seatbelts can reduce fetal injuries in traffic accidents by as much as 84 percent, according to CDOT.

For pregnant women, the belt’s shoulder strap should be away from your neck, resting on your shoulder. The strap should run across your chest and between your breasts and you should remove any slack. Never place the shoulder strap under your arm or behind your back.

The lap belt should be secured below your belly so that it fits snugly across your hips and pelvic bone. Never place the lap belt over or on top of your belly.

The driver’s seat should also be adjusted to allow maximum distance between your belly and the steering wheel. You should still be able to reach the wheel and pedals comfortably. Do not let your belly touch or rest on the steering wheel. Avoid reclining the seat, which can create undesirable space between your shoulder and the seat belt.

The steering wheel should be tilted upward so that the airbag is directed at your chest, not your belly. If you need more room, you may consider adjusting the steering wheel or having someone else drive when feasible.

The seat belt usage data cited by CDOT and CSP comes from a study by UCHealth EMS and the Hudson Center for Prenatal Vehicle Safety. Researchers analyzed more than 1,700 prenatal seat belt checks.

UCHealth EMS offers free seat belt checks for pregnant drivers, as well as car seat installation and CPR education.

“Expectant parents hold a unique responsibility to protect not just themselves but also their unborn children,” Trooper Kent Trimbach, Car Seats Colorado child passenger safety coordinator, said in a statement highlighting the new data. 

“Many pregnant people may not realize that the way they wear their seat belt could impact their baby’s safety so dramatically,” Trimbach said. “By raising awareness and providing clear guidance, our goal is to empower parents-to-be to ensure their safety and the safety of their vulnerable cargo.”

Remember to Click It 

Pregnant women are not the only ones who could use a reminder about buckling up.

Colorado cops issued nearly 1,600 tickets statewide to drivers for not properly wearing seatbelts – or having a passenger in their cars who was not buckled up – over a three-week stretch earlier this year. About 120 of those tickets went to drivers who were found to have children in their cars who were not properly restrained.

CDOT and local law enforcement officials are rolling out a public awareness campaign aimed at getting more people to buckle up. They are focusing in particular on highlighting the risk of rollover crashes and the severe injuries they can cause to drivers and passengers who are not wearing seatbelts.

Drivers and passengers who are not wearing seatbelts are far more likely to be injured or killed than those wearing seatbelts. Unbuckled people may be thrown around in the vehicle or ejected, a situation that typically ends in catastrophic injury or death. 

A total of 236 people killed in Colorado car accidents last year were not wearing seatbelts at the time, according to CDOT. About half of the 26,000 people killed in car accidents nationwide every year are not buckled up, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show.

Pregnant and Involved in a Car Accident? Here’s What You Should Know

Car accidents can and do happen in Colorado and across the country.

Anyone who is pregnant and involved in a car accident should seek immediate medical attention, even if you do not feel like you have been injured. You should also contact your prenatal care provider as soon as possible.

A person who is injured in a crash – or whose unborn child is hurt in an accident – has the right to seek compensation from those responsible. That includes negligent drivers and their insurers, as well as defective vehicle and parts manufacturers and road crews that create safety hazards, among others.

The compensation typically available in Colorado car accident cases is designed to put an injured person back in the financial position that he or she was in prior to the collision. That includes money for current and future medical bills related to the accident, along with compensation for missed wages and any reduction in future earning capacity.

There simply is no amount of money that will undo a crash, especially one that injures an unborn child. This compensation can, however, help ease the financial burden that often comes with being in an accident.

You do not need to go it alone. An experienced Denver car accident lawyer can help you understand your rights and maximize your compensation. That includes identifying those responsible for the accident, gathering all of the available evidence and establishing legal liability in the most clear and convincing way.

Speak with a Denver Car Accident Lawyer 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a hit and run or other crash in Colorado, a Denver car accident lawyer at Levine Law can help you take action. Our attorneys combine decades of experience and a strong track record of success in the courtroom and through negotiated settlements.

We are pleased to serve clients throughout Colorado, including in Denver, Colorado Springs, Ft. Collins and Loveland. Call us at 303-333-8000 or contact us online to speak with a Denver car accident lawyer.