Motivation: A compelling reason to shed some pounds …

A study reported by EurekAlert! – a science society — concludes that obese drivers are much more likely to die in car crashes than normal weight drivers.


Here’s the skinny on the study …

According to EurekAlert!

The researchers used data from the US Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

During this period 1996 to 2008, details of 57,491 road traffic collisions were submitted to the system.

The researched looked for collisions in which both parties had been driving vehicles of similar size and type.

They selected 3,403 pairs of drivers for whom data on weight, age, seat belt use and airbag deployment were available.

Almost half of these drivers (46%) were of normal weight; one in three was overweight; and almost one in five (18%) were obese.

One in three was not using a seat belt properly – lap or shoulder only, rather than both – and in over half (53%) of cases, the airbag deployed.

The analysis showed that risk of death increased the more obese the driver was.

The World Health Organization categorizes obesity from levels I to III.

  • At level I, obese drivers were 21% more likely to die than normal weight drivers;
  • At level II they were 51% more likely to die than normal weight drivers;
  • At level III they were 80% more likely to die than normal weight drivers.

Obese women were at the greatest risk.

The authors reason that “the lower body of obese drivers is propelled further forward on impact before the seatbelt engages the pelvis, because of the additional soft tissue which prevents the belt from fitting snugly, while the upper body is held back.”

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What’s the solution?

The authors opine that car design may have to change to better protect obese drivers.

The findings … indicate that car design might need to change to afford greater protection to the considerable proportion of obese people in the population – currently around a third of all US adults.

Say, what?

Why not a maximum weight limit to qualify for a driver’s license?  Have applicants step on a scale after taking their DMV vision test.

Or, an ignition lock … if there’s too much heft on the driver’s seat, then the car won’t start.  You know, comparable to some sobriety devices.

Or, just let Darwin do his job.

But, please … let’s not supersize our rides.

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