According to researchers, someone who is even just moderately obese is 21 percent more likely to die in a severe car crash as compared to a non-obese driver. If you are severely obese, your chances of dying are even higher: 56 percent above a non-obese person.
In what may be chalked up to a statistical anomaly, people who were only slightly overweight in the study actually had a lower chance of dying.
Should cars be designed with these higher risks in mind? The study’s lead author thinks so:
“The rate of obesity is continuing to rise, so is it imperative that car designs are modified to protect the obese population, and that crash tests are done using a full range of dummy sizes,” said Dr. Dietrich Jehle, professor of emergency medicine at University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
Here are some of his suggested design changes:
“Extending the range of adjustable seats would be helpful, as well as encouraging moderately and morbidly obese individuals to buy larger vehicles with more space between the seat and the steering column,” said Jehle. “We also recommend that manufacturers design and test vehicle interiors with obese dummies, which currently are not available.”