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Obese drivers more likely to die in car crashes

May 7th, 2012        

Obese drivers more likely to die in car crashes

Moderately obese people, who have a body mass index greater than 30, typically shave three years off of their lives, just by being overweight. (Morbidly obese people lose 10 years, according to one study.) And then there’s that long list of potential health problems obese people face in America ranging from asthma and diabetes to heart disease and cancer – as well as scorn and ridicule from skinny judgmental people. So it only makes sense that obese people are statistically less likely to survive a severe automobile accident.

A study of fatal accidents by the University of Buffalo suggests that the bigger you are, the more likely you’ll die from injuries sustained in an accident.

In a severe accident, moderately obese people face a 21 percent greater risk of death and morbidly obese people are 56 percent more likely to die than those of lesser weight.

“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,” says Dr. Dietrick Jehle, professor of emergency medicine at University of Buffalo School of Medicine.

With nearly one-third of the American population now considered obese, Jehle suggests carmakers begin testing safety equipment with big boned dummies and devise other means to help obese people better survive accidents.

“The rate of obesity is continuing to rise, so it is imperative that car designs are modified to protect the obese population, and that crash tests are done using a full range of dummy sizes,” Jehle states.

Dieting and exercise were never mentioned.

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