Overweight Drivers’ Increased Risk of Injury in Auto Accidents Getting Increased Attention in the Auto Industry

If you have gained a few pounds over the years, you have probably already heard it all about how it can affect your health and wellbeing. You are not alone, either—more than one-third of Americans are obese and much more are overweight in what is considered one of the greatest health crises in our nation.

It has been well-known for some time that overweight and obese individuals have a greater risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even stroke. What has only been recently discovered, however, is that obese adults run a higher risk of being fatally injured in a car accident—a much higher risk. Those in the lowest stage of obesity (BMI 30.0-34.9) are 21% more likely to die in an accident than a person of normal weight, and those in the highest stage (BMI 40.0 or higher) were 80% more likely to be killed.

What Is the Auto Industry Doing to Address Safety for Obese Drivers and Passengers?

For a long time, it seemed as though the transportation industry was trying to wait out the obesity epidemic before implementing major changes. As obesity only became more prevalent, it has finally come to the point where auto manufacturers must address the issue head-on and offer cars tailored for the majority of our population.

Much of the safety improvements that have been made over the years in cars has been thanks to the ever-improving technology that is being used in crash test dummies. This led Humanetics, the leader in crash test dummy production, to develop a prototype dummy that weighs in at 273 pounds with a BMI of 35.0; the current standard adult dummy weight is just under 170 pounds.

The significance of this new dummy cannot be overestimated. The biggest problem obese vehicle occupants face is that safety restraints do not properly engage with the pelvis until the lower half of the individual has traveled much further forward in their seat on impact, while their shoulders engage the restraints immediately. This often results in fatal internal injuries not seen in smaller occupants.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, along with auto manufacturers, are slow to warm up to the new dummy. Humanetics remains unphased, however, and is continuing to develop dummies that represent petite females and elderly drivers, two other demographics with increased risk of death in car accidents.

What do you think of the new crash test dummies—will they make our cars safer? If you have been injured in a crash, you know how important it is for cars to protect every type of occupant. Call the Phoenix personal injury attorneys at Curry, Pearson & Wooten today at 602-258-1000 and learn if your injuries are eligible for compensation.

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