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Pregnant women have higher crash risk

When you drive, there are a great many things on your mind. You need to be aware of the road conditions, the other vehicles that surround you, the movement of opposing traffic, stoplights and other traffic signs and signals.

You receive many admonitions regarding things not to do when driving, from having drank alcohol to using prescription drugs. You are encouraged to avoid driving when fatigued.

Of course, many people do all of these things and increase their chances of having a car accident. But you may not have suspected that being pregnant would increase your risk of a car crash. A new study indicates that women during the second trimester of pregnancy have more car accidents during that time than before or after in their pregnancy.

It is not clear from the study exactly what it is about the second trimester of a pregnancy that causes the difficulty with driving. One of the researchers suggested that a combination of the typical symptoms of a pregnancy, such “fatigue, nausea, insomnia anxiety and distraction” all can play a role in leaving a driver in a poor condition to operate a motor vehicle.

The research examined the driving records of 500,000 women who were pregnant. Their rate of serious crashes almost doubled during the second trimester and then fell back below the crash rate during the first trimester by the third trimester.

While this increase in accidents is not grounds for great concern, and the study notes that young men have far worse crash rates generally, it does suggest pregnant women should exercise additional care when driving during the second trimester. Put down the cell phone, and pay extra attention to your driving.

Source: USA Today, “Study: Pregnant drivers may have more car crashes,” Kim Painter, May 12, 2014 

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