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Ford's 'pregnant' men back safety

2012-10-24 10:11

'MINE'S BIGGER THAN YOURS': A Ford engineer compares his "pregnant belly" against the real thing.

If you’re a female and pregnant (or even those just thinking of it), Ford has a number of top safety tips to keep you safe behind the wheel. They’ll be useful for those carrying a few extra kilos, too.

Ford engineers have to get pregnant before they work on car design. Even the men. The men?


Yep, Ford engineers use an Empathy Belly (that's its name) suit that mimics the sensation of being three to eight months pregnant with a water pouch, weights and pressure bags on the wearer’s bladder. See the video below if you don’t believe us…

By wearing these suits, the engineers are able to anticipate what women will have to deal with when pregnant and design cars to accommodate this.

But that news should appeal to those looking to remain safe and comfortable behind while pregnant. While that low-slung sports coupe might be desirable when you’re young and child-free (or young and slender), changes in circumstance often necessitate the need for fresh, more practical, wheels.

Ford reckons that if there’s even a “remote possibility” that a woman might become pregnant within three years of buying a new car, there are a number of factors to consider that will avoid the problem of having to sell the car for something more child-friendly.

Ford’s top car-buying
tips for pregnant mums:

Look at the depth and position of the rocker panel – the area the driver needs to step over to get in and out of a car.

Height of the roof panel – the size of a pregnant woman’s belly might limit her range of movement, including her ability to bend when entering a car.

Seat bolsters – sports seats typically feature large seat bolsters to hug the driver’s thighs, but these can also limit the ability of a pregnant woman to get into and out of a car.

Adjustable steering column – fixed steering wheels, or those that can only be adjusted for rake (height) can limit a pregnant driver’s comfort and affect their safety in an emergency situation. A steering wheel adjustable for reach and rake allows for more adjustment during and after pregnancy.

A few more tips about safely
accommodating that growing tummy:

Wear your seat belt correctly – make sure it is positioned BELOW your abdomen and across your hips with the shoulder strap resting between your breasts.

Move your seat back – this will protect your stomach should an air bag deploy; reclining the seat back might also help.

Support your back – if you have back pain, place a small pillow or rolled-up towel (or adjust your car seat’s lumbar support if it’s so equipped) behind your lower back to increase your comfort.

Take breaks – if you’re driving for long periods, take regular breaks to increase blood flow to your feet. Take a break to move your feet, rotate your ankles and wiggle your toes.

Be a passenger – when possible, sit in the back of a car, which is seen as the safest spot for expectant mothers. Alternatively, push the front seat as far back as it will go to protect you and your belly from air bag deployment.

Information at the ready – wherever you go, carry a copy of your pregnancy record that includes your medical information and emergency contacts. Just in case...

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