The three-point seat belt – invented in 1959 – has already saved over a million lives. But confusion still exists as to its use among road users – especially pregnant women, who fear that the belt could harm their unborn baby in some way.
The good news – especially as we approach the festive season, when travel by road increases – is that the seat belt is only good news for moms and babies alike. But it is very important to wear it correctly.
According to Charmagne Mavudzi, head of consumer experience at Volvo Car South Africa, pregnant women should use a safety belt at all times, right up until the birth. “The safety belt should be positioned as close to the wearer’s body as possible. Check that it has not twisted,” she advises.
The safety belt should be taut against the mid-shoulder, with the diagonal section of the belt between the breasts and along the side of the belly.
The lap section of the belt should be flat against the side of the thigh, as low as possible below the belly. The belt should not slide up across the belly.
“Moms should ensure that they are sitting in a comfortable position. They should be able to reach the steering wheel and the pedals quite easily. However, the distance between the steering wheel and upper body should be as great as possible,” Mavudzi said.
Add-on devices – which supposedly help position the safety belt for pregnant women – are not a good idea.
“They are not developed in conjunction with the restraint systems in the different vehicles and there is as yet no evidence that safety belt positioners actually improve user safety in crashes.
“In fact, they might even be a hazard because they introduce slack to the safety belt,” Mavudzi warned.