Obese Drivers More Likely To Die in Car Crashes, Study Says


  • Obese Drivers Study Picture

    Obese Drivers Study Picture

    Obese drivers are more likely to die in car crashes than drivers of normal weight, a new study found. | January 25, 2013

Just the Facts:
  • Obese drivers are more likely to die in car crashes than drivers of normal weight, according to a new study by the Emergency Medicine Journal.
  • Researchers say the "ability of passenger vehicles to protect overweight or obese occupants may have increasingly important public health implications."
  • Inappropriate car design, poorly fitting seatbelts and underlying health problems may contribute to the problem of higher death rates in car crashes among the obese.

BERKELEY, California — Obese drivers are more likely to die in car crashes than drivers of normal weight, according to a new study published this week by the Emergency Medicine Journal.

Researchers say the "ability of passenger vehicles to protect overweight or obese occupants may have increasingly important public health implications."

The risk of death grows with a person's body-mass index or BMI. The morbidly obese were 80 percent more likely to die as a result of a vehicle crash than normal weight drivers. Researchers analyzed data from the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System for 1996 to 2008.

"It may be the case that passenger vehicles are well designed to protect normal weight vehicle occupants but are deficient in protecting overweight or obese occupants," according to the study by Dr. Thomas M. Rice, an epidemiologist with the Transportation Research and Education Center of the University of California, and Motao Zu, his co-author.

Inappropriate car design, poorly fitting seatbelts and underlying health problems may contribute to the problem of higher death rates in car crashes among the obese.

Researchers are also calling for automakers to create larger crash-test dummies to account for the changing body types in the U.S.

More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Edmunds says: It's easy to say "just another reason to lose weight." But the reality is that obesity is a major public health problem that stretches into all areas of life, including driving.

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