• Tue, Jan 22 2013

Obese Drivers More Likely To Die In Car Accidents

obesity-effects-driving

Every time we turn around, it seems that doctors and researchers are giving us yet another reason to avoid obesity. Many of the ways that being severely overweight negatively impacts our bodies and lives are slow to develop, gradually increasing their adverse nature. In this case, researchers have found a more instantaneous way that obesity effects humans: a new study’s authors are saying that having a BMI over 30 makes people more likely to die in car accidents.

The study, released online in the BMJ Group’s Emergency Medicine Journal, took a look at facts in 57,491 accidents between 1996 and 2008 documented by the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System. The authors wrote that research shows obese people’s lower bodies are propelled further than an average-sized person’s, thus making their pelvises more likely to be thrust into their seat belts. Because their extra size makes the belt fit less snugly, they are less safe. According to them, cars should be made more accomodating for obese people.

“The ability of passenger vehicles to protect overweight or obese occupants may have increasingly important public health implications, given the continuing obesity epidemic in the USA.

Considering more than one-third of adults are obese, as well as almost a fifth of children, it would make sense (and could potentially be monetarily advantageous) for car companies to design automotive equipment that helps people who are very overweight be safer in car accidents. Unfortunately, as of now, obese people are not utilizing seat belts properly; Keshia Pollack, associate professor with the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, stated that, obese and morbidly obese people are less likely to use seat belts properly, in part due to how uncomfortable they are and the fact that the belts don’t fit well on larger bodies.

Seat belts are an incredibly important feature that must be used whenever in the car, so making them a little more appealing for people to use — besides the whole obvious, “they totally can save your life” thing — does sound like a solid idea. I think that the ways in which researchers and car companies do so must be worked out thoroughly in order to create a comfortable, effective product that will best serve drivers, but I also hope that this revelation will give people yet another reason to truly try to maintain a healthy lifestyle and size that will keep them as safe as possible in every facet of life.

Photo: Shutterstock

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  • Lastango

    I’m conflicted on this. On the one hand, I’m paying through my taxes for the increased injuries of obese people — so I don’t want them to get hurt.

    On the other hand, why should my next car cost more because someone else has an unhealthy lifestyle? How did that get to be my problem? In Canada, an obese person is entitled to two airline seats for the price of a single ticket. All the other passengers are paying for that extra seat.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/11/20/us-obesity-odd-idUSTRE4AJ8G020081120