CBS Seattle reports that obesity increases a driver’s risk of a car accident – and increases the risk of severe injuries or death from an accident.
The study, published in the Journal of Transportation Safety & Security, concludes that the “poor car-to-person fit is thought to be the leading cause” of the added risk of injury or death for obese car accident victims. Most cars are designed for smaller drivers: in a collision, an obese person is not correctly positioned to be protected by the seat belts or airbags.
Other studies have also shown an increased risk of accidents and fatalities for obese drivers because of weight-related health conditions; additionally, the larger a person is, the less likely they are to use a seatbelt. Earlier this year, The American Journal of Emergency Medicine found that a moderately obese driver faces a 21% increased risk of death in a severe automobile crash – and a morbidly obese driver is 56% more likely to suffer a fatality.
Researchers conclude that car manufacturers need to design motor vehicles with safety features that can be adjusted to protect the drivers of varies weights and sizes, and begin to run standard safety testing with larger crash-test models.