Auto Accidents Are More Likely for Pregnant Drivers
Pregnancy Brain Can Cause Auto Accidents
An expecting mom can add yet another pregnancy-related health risk to her list of things to worry about. “Pregnancy brain”—that phenomenon of forgetfulness and distraction that affects a pregnant woman’s day-to-day activities—puts her at a significantly higher risk of being involved in a serious motor vehicle accident.
Research by the University of Toronto revealed a 1 in 50 statistical risk of the average woman having a motor vehicle crash at some point during her pregnancy. The study further showed that this risk is particularly high at the beginning of the second trimester.
The 2014 study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, looked at the driving records of 500,000 women over six years. The rates of auto accidents before, during, and after pregnancy were compared, and the results were alarming: A woman is 42 percent more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident when she’s pregnant than she was in the three years before she conceived. And these accidents are not small fender-benders—they’re multi-vehicle crashes that are bad enough to send the driver to the emergency room.
The research showed that, thanks to hormones and brain changes, pregnancy can negatively impact the reflexes, concentration, and overall driving skills of a mom-to-be. As a result, car crashes are the leading cause of fetal death linked to trauma in mothers.
Not surprisingly, the crash risk is higher in the afternoons, in bad weather, and during fall and winter. More interestingly, however, is that the risk is especially high during the first month of the second trimester. Typically, this is the time in a pregnancy when morning sickness has waned, energy has returned, and an expecting woman begins to feel better. She’s ready to be out and about, and that may mean spending more time behind the wheel (an obvious risk component). Additionally, she may find herself distracted by her pending arrival—thinking about all that is involved with preparing for that baby-on-the-way instead of focusing on the road in front of her.
One might think that physical manifestations of a woman in her third trimester would put her at a greater risk of being involved in a car accident. Not so, according to the research. The physical changes of advanced pregnancy are, of course, more apparent and serve as a constant reminder to be more careful behind the wheel. Furthermore, a woman’s support system does its part to warn her to drive with caution.
Fortunately for that busy mom-to-be, the research makes no recommendation that she stop driving while pregnant. Simply being aware of the increased risk may be enough to keep her safe on the highway. And it’s nice to know that, according to the study, even at her second-trimester worst, a pregnant woman is still a better driver than a man of the same age!
Guest Post by: David Christensen
David Christensen represents clients who have been victims of traumatic brain injuries. He has more than 25 years of experience helping those injured in auto or motorcycle accidents obtain medical benefits and secure treatment options that allow them to focus on their healing and recovery. Christensen Law is located in Southfield, MI .