Pregnant women could experience higher car accident risk

Pregnant women in Tennessee may be at a higher risk for being injured in a car accident, but the reason may not be what you expect. A recent study out of the nearby University of Toronto shows that pregnant women in their second trimester are about twice as likely as their non-pregnant counterparts to get in a wreck. Experts say that the women most likely cause the additional car accidents because they are cognitively affected by changes in their hormone levels.

The researchers in the study say they chose to pursue the topic because they noticed that women were asking about safety related to rollercoasters and other dangerous activities — but few were inquiring about car accident risk. The fact remains that women with even normal pregnancies experience mood fluctuations, anxieties, fatigue, nausea and other distractions that could make them more dangerous behind the wheel. Even these minor neurological changes could contribute to the hike in the crash rate for this population of women.

Experts say that the statistics hold true even after correcting for socioeconomic status and other demographic factors. Further, women who had already had children did not experience any kind of protective effect. The crash rate generally fell shortly before delivery and then continued to decrease after the women gave birth.

Researchers are quick to say that women should not avoid getting behind the wheel simply because they are in the second trimester of their pregnancy. Instead, every driver should remember to follow basic safety rules — such as following the speed limit — to avoid causing a car accident. Victims who have been injured by an inattentive driver, no matter the cause, may be entitled to financial damages for pain and suffering and a variety of other civil claims, so pregnant women may be well-served to pay extra attention while driving during this vulnerable time.

Source: The Chicago Tribune, “Pregnancy linked to car crash risk: study” Andrew M. Seaman, Reuters, May. 13, 2014