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Crash test at the ADAC test centre

Photo: Martin Hangen / ADAC

An additional seat belt box between the thighs or a construction with different hooks: belt adapters for pregnant women can look very different. They promise similar things: to keep the lap belt low under the abdomen even in the event of an accident, to protect mother and unborn child. The suppliers "claim that the vehicle belt poses a danger and that their products offer better protection," according to the ADAC.

However, parents-to-be should not rely on this – at least that is what a study by the ADAC shows, in which all four systems tested failed. In the crash test, none of them withstood the forces of an impact. The lap belt did not stay below the abdomen. The test included an elastic band with snap fasteners, a belt adapter with plastic hooks, one with metal hooks and an additional belt that is placed around the seat cushion of the vehicle seat and attached to it.

The ADAC's measurements also show that belt adapters retain the pelvis worse than the three-point belt alone. As a result, in the event of an impact, higher loads are placed on the chest, pelvis and abdomen if a belt adapter is involved.

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Belts tested by ADAC

Photo: Martin Hangen / ADAC

In addition, some systems contain elements made of hard plastic and metal – an additional risk of injury, as the ADAC criticises. For example, when plastic hooks break in a crash.

According to the information, the belt adapters have another disadvantage. According to the ADAC, up to 30 centimetres more belt is needed when fastening the seatbelt. As a result, the belt is less tight to the body and hips overall. In the event of a crash, this causes the abdomen to move further forward than when only the three-point belt is in use. This increases the risk of the stomach hitting the steering wheel, for example.

According to the information, the seat belt tests are not representative, but provided clues to the partly subjective criteria of "sense of safety" and "comfort" of the test subjects.

The ADAC experts therefore strongly advise against using belt adapters. The safest solution remains the conventional three-point seat belt alone. If it fits correctly: The ADAC advises pregnant women not to pass the lap belt over the abdomen. Instead, it should rest low on the hips.

Especially now, when many people are wearing thickly lined winter coats, it makes sense to take off your jacket for driving. If you keep them on, you should make sure that the strap on the hips is not over the garment. To do this, it can often help to open the jacket. For optimal protection, the belt should fit as close to the body as possible.

If your stomach and steering wheel get closer and closer during pregnancy, it is advisable to readjust, according to the ADAC. So adjust the steering wheel and car seat so that there is more distance.

Pregnant women who do not drive themselves are better placed in the front passenger seat than in the back seat. One reason: According to the ADAC, better restraint systems are installed on the front seats in most cars than on the rear seat.