Car Companies Look For Ways To Protect Pregnant Women And Their Unborn Children

The New York Times recently published an article discussing the steps car companies such as The Ford Motor Company are doing to protect pregnant drivers and their unborn children.

States are not required to track fetal deaths when reporting car accident data, but it is estimated that 300 to 1,000 unborn children die in car accidents each year. The car accident fatality rate for unborn children is about four times the rate for infants and children up to age 4. Car safety experts at Virginia Tech University, funded in part by Ford Motor Company, are trying to develop a computerized crash test model to determine how best to protect pregnant women and their unborn children during a auto collision.

Stefan Duma, Virginia Tech’s head of biomechanical engineering, discussed with the Times the different steps that are being taken to protect pregnant drivers. Below is some of her insight on this issue:

“The three-point belt (a shoulder belt and lap belt) is better for everybody. But with pregnant women, one of the problems is misuse and misinformation. A lot of women don’t like the way belts feel, and they move the shoulder strap or the lap belt will ride up and come up in the middle of the abdomen. Seat belts are designed to load on the bony structures. You want the seat belt on your pelvis. If they are seated right the airbag helps. The seat belt and airbag combination is best.”

“The design cycle for cars is about three years. If I wanted to put a new thing in a car right now the best case is three to four years. What is the perfect belt for a pregnant occupant? It’s a a difficult solution, but it’s something we need to work toward. There are some attachments out there, but none of them are recommended by auto manufacturers. The problem is we don’t really have a good tool to evaluate what they do. The first step is to develop a computer model to evaluate them.”

“The biggest thing is to wear your seat belt. Keep the lap belt by your legs and stay as far away from the steering wheel as you can. Some vehicles have a button to adjust the height of the brake and gas pedal so shorter people don’t have to sit so close to the steering wheel. And there are after-market pedal extenders. My wife used those. Pedal extenders allowed us to put her in a position further away from the steering wheel. It’s just three inches, but that’s a lot of distance in an accident.”

To read the complete article, click here.

We will have to wait and see if any technology is installed in new car models that will help protect pregnant women and their unborn children.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident or truck accident, then call attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation on your case. You can reach attorney Bryant at 312-588-3384.

Power Windows May Pose Risk To Children

The New York Times recently reported that a consumer group is urging the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration to require special safety requirements in all cars using power windows.

“It just kind of defies logic why anyone would allow a product to continue to be made in a fashion that is knowingly killing, maiming, crushing, and responsible for amputation,” said Janette Fennell, president of KidsAndCars.org in Leawood, Kan. The group wants the federal agency to require automakers to equip all power windows with an auto-reverse feature, so that a window would automatically stop and open if it encountered an obstruction while closing.

However, the agency says in various regulatory documents that several new safety requirements involving power windows show it is doing a good job tackling what it describes as “a small, but persistent problem.”

The agency estimates there are 1,995 injuries – mostly minor – and six deaths a year related to power windows. It says its figures are based on “verifiable police and medical reports of injuries directly related to power-window accidents,” including surveys of emergency rooms and checks of other records.

The agency does not see this as a widespread problem. In regulatory documents, it says it is aware of “only one documented case of a fatality in which a driver may have closed a window while unaware that a child was being entrapped in the window opening.”

As part of its required study, the agency figured if automakers were required to put auto-reverse on all power windows using a more demanding United States standard, the cost would be about $588 million annually. It would save two lives and prevent 997 injuries.

Ms. Fennell says she believes auto-reverse could be installed on all power windows for about $150 million by using a slightly different but still effective standard.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers supports the agency’s proposal to require automatic reversing only on one-touch up windows, says spokesman Wade Newton. He said the association feels auto-reverse is not necessary on windows without a one-touch feature because of the other recently adopted safety requirements like pull-up-to-close switches.

To read the complete story, click here.

It will be interesting to see if how much pressure this consumer group will put on lawmakers and on the NHSTA and whether any new changes will take places.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident or truck accident, then call attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384.

New Study Shows Texting While Driving Increases Auto Accident Rates Tenfold

I think we have all experienced the following situation in the past. You are driving along and you receive a new email or text message on your Blackberry or IPhone. The temptation is there to read the message and even type a response. I have been in that situation countless times returning from Court or even during a long road trip. We all need to face the fact that returning that text is dangerous and can even be deadly. This has been confirmed in a new study performed by the Virginia Tech Traffic Institute, which revealed last week that when drivers texted, their collision risk was 23 times greater than when not texting.  In the moments before a car crash or near crash, drivers typically spent nearly five seconds looking at their devices — enough time at typical highway speeds to cover more than the length of a football field. 

This is scary information and it has led me to re-think ever responding to a text or email while driving. So, the next time you are cruising around town, please ignore that text or email until you have a chance to stop your car or pull over. It could save your life.

To read more about the study reported on by the New York Times, click here.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a car or trucking accident, then call Attorney Aaron Bryant for a free consultation at 312-588-3384.