First it was fuel economy, and now science is handing out more bad news to obese drivers: They’re more likely to die in car crashes.
A study set to be posted in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine led by Dietrich Jehle, MD and professor of emergency medicine at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences,claims that obese drivers face a 56 percent increased risk of death compared with only 21% for the non-obese.
“The severity and patterns of crash injuries depend on a complex interaction of biomechanical factors, including deceleration velocity at impact, seat belt and air bag use, vehicle type and weight, and type of impact, but the effect of body mass on crash outcome has not been previously evaluated in databases of adequate size or controlled for some of these confounding factors,” said Jehle.
“Crash test dummies have saved lives and provided invaluable data on how human bodies react to crashes, but they are designed to represent normal-weight individuals. If they represented our overweight American society, there could be further improvements in vehicle design that could decrease mortality.”
Jehle suggest that we extend the range of adjustable seats and corralling larger drivers into bigger cars with more space between the seat and the steering column. He also recommends that “manufacturers design and test vehicle interiors with obese dummies” with a BMW of 24.3 which is, technically, overweight and not obese. Currently there are no obese test dummies, but that is likely to change. A recent study says that 42 percent of the US population will be obese by 2030.
Another interesting bit of information from the study is that normal weight and underweight individuals were more likely to be fatally injured in crashes than were slightly overweight individuals.
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