Is car travel safe during pregnancy?

6 minute read Published on Jan 30, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

Closeup of a pregnant woman belly. She's fastening her car seat belt.

If you’re pregnant, then you probably have a lot of questions running through your head, some of which may be driving-related. For instance, many people struggle to know how to choose the right car seat for their child. Meanwhile, others are concerned about whether they can continue driving while pregnant, especially as they enter their third trimester. This is the topic we are here to discuss today. Keep reading for more information on whether car travel is safe during pregnancy, and be sure to check out the BrokerLink travel guide for more information.

Is it safe to be the passenger in a car while pregnant?

Before we dive into the topic of driving a car, let’s first consider whether it is safe to be in a car at all. The answer is yes, it is perfectly safe to be the passenger in a car while pregnant. So long as you wear your seatbelt at all times, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

That said, if you plan on taking a particularly long car ride, such as a road trip, you may want to make sure that you are near medical services throughout your journey in case something goes wrong. For example, if you were to experience complications or be at risk of delivering the baby early, you wouldn’t want to be far from a hospital.

Is it safe to drive a car while pregnant?

Now, to the question of driving a car while pregnant. Just as with being a passenger, it is safe to drive a car while pregnant. There are just a few extra precautions you may need to take.

First, if you plan to be the driver on a long road trip, make sure that you are aware of the various hospitals and medical centres around you in case you need last-minute medical attention at some point during your journey. If your road trip involves being in remote areas with no service for long periods of time, you may want to think twice, especially if your due date is nearing.

Second, if you are in the later stages of your pregnancy, then chances are your belly has started to grow. This can affect how you wear your seatbelt and position the driver’s seat. For your car’s airbags to function properly, you will need to wear a seatbelt at all times while driving,- and your abdomen should never be less than ten inches from the steering wheel.

If your abdomen has grown to the size where it is pushing on the steering wheel, this could be a major problem if you get into an accident and it is more likely to cause bodily harm to you if your airbags were deployed.

Thus, you will need to reposition your seat. If you are shorter and cannot afford to move the bottom of your seat back anymore, you should still be able to recline the back of the seat to make more room between your abdomen and the steering wheel.

Regarding the remainder of the seat, the headrest should be behind the driver’s head for maximum support. You can also choose to angle the steering wheel higher so that it is facing toward your breast bone rather than toward your belly.

If you are in the passenger seat, push the chair back as far from the dash as possible, again to give you as much space between the airbag and your belly. Finally, as for the seatbelt, we dive more into how to wear a seatbelt while pregnant below.

How can a pregnant person safely wear a seatbelt?

A seatbelt is one of the most important safety devices in your car, and not only that, but wearing one is the law in Canada. So, if you want to know how to avoid common causes of car accidents, wearing a seatbelt is one of them.

Seatbelts help prevent serious injury in both major and minor types of common car accidents. However, while pregnant, wearing a seatbelt can be more challenging, especially as your baby continues to grow.

Generally speaking, this is how experts recommend wearing a seatbelt when you are pregnant: Place the seatbelt across your pelvis or upper thighs. You want it positioned as high on your thighs as possible, just below your bump.

The shoulder harness should continue to be worn over your shoulder and diagonally across your chest. When it comes to your belly, the seatbelt should be placed to one side of your bump. Finally, pull the seat belt to remove any slack and fit it securely in place.

Should I stop driving a car in my third trimester?

There is no rule that says when a pregnant person should stop driving. Many pregnant people choose to drive throughout their entire pregnancy.

However, if you reach a point where you feel it is unsafe or uncomfortable to drive, perhaps because your feet can no longer reach the pedals or your bump has become so big that you can’t easily sit or turn, you may decide to temporarily stop driving. Ultimately, the decision is yours.

Safety tips for travelling by car while pregnant

Make driving while pregnant safer by following the tips below:

Prepare for a potential emergency

Anytime you are driving, but especially if you are driving pregnant, it’s a smart idea to prepare for a potential emergency.

The best way to do so? With an emergency road kit. This kit should have the basics like a first aid kit, portable battery charger, flashlight, blanket, non-perishable food, and water.

This way, if your car breaks down on the side of the road, you can stay warm and hydrated until the tow truck arrives.

Keep snacks and water in the car with you

Driving while hungry or dehydrated is not ideal, but this is especially true during pregnancy. A pregnant person’s body requires more food and water than the average person’s.

It’s a good idea to keep lots of snacks and water in your car. Not only will snacks and water keep you satiated and hydrated, but they can also help you feel more awake and energized.

Take stock of how you feel before pulling out of the driveway

It might be more common for pregnant people to experience fatigue and nausea, both of which can make it more challenging to drive.

Therefore, before you pull out of the driveway, take stock of how you feel. If you know you’re feeling tired or unwell, consider postponing your car trip until later in the day, or keep some medicine on hand that might be able to help.

Plan lots of breaks

While on the road, make sure to allot time to take breaks. Whether you’re heading out on a road trip or only driving for an hour or less, the reality is that you might need to stop more frequently than you’re used to.

Why? Now that you’re pregnant, your body has different needs. Whether you need to urinate more frequently, pull over to rest, or take a break so you can get the blood moving in your legs and feet, make sure to plan lots of breaks during car travel.

Remove bulky outerwear

It’s best to avoid wearing lots of layers or bulky outerwear while driving pregnant.

This is due to the fact that a heavy winter jacket could interfere with the positioning of your seatbelt, which would make it less safe to drive.

Wearing a coat can also restrict your movement behind the wheel, slowing your reaction time.

Properly position your seat and steering wheel

Remember, keeping your abdomen at least ten inches from the steering wheel, and the airbag it contains is a must at all times.

Do what you need to ensure this is the case, whether you need to tilt the steering wheel at an upward angle, push it inwards (if it has the ability to do so), or recline your seat farther back.

Travel in the passenger seat when possible

As much as possible, be the passenger rather than the driver. This will eliminate many of the risks of driving pregnant, especially having to worry about positioning your baby bump ten inches from the steering wheel.

Contact BrokerLink

To learn more about the potential risks of driving while pregnant and receive even more tips for pregnant car travel, get in touch with BrokerLink today.

BrokerLink is one of the leading auto insurance brokerages in Canada. We offer free insurance quotes to drivers and can help them find quality Toronto car insurance policies that contain the following types of coverage and more:

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