Research on how much weight an average American is carrying is now shaping how companies think about safety, according to ABC News.
Humanetics is the only US producer of crash-test dummies. ABC spoke to their CEO, Chris O’Connor, about how they’re producing dummies these days. He says that studies show that obese drivers are 78% more likely to die in a car crash.
So his company is making new dummies that are based on what a 270-pound person looks like, and how they operate. That’s a Body Mass Index of 35 (reflecting someone who is morbidly obese).
“Typically you want someone in a very tight position with their rear against the back of the seat and the seat belt tight to the pelvis,” O’Connor explained. “An obese person has more mass around midsection and a larger rear which pushes them out of position. They sit further forward and the belt does not grasp the pelvis as easily,” O’Connor told ABC News,
The Emergency Medicine Journal did an eye-opening study in 2013 about how much worse car accidents can be for the obese.
They note that estimated risk ratios for people with a BMI over 30 were higher. From the study’s conclusion:
Findings from this study suggest that obese vehicle drivers are more likely to die from traffic collision-related injuries than non-obese occupants involved in the same collision. Education is needed to improve seat belt use among obese people, as is research to understand the potential role of comorbidities in injury outcomes.
ABC News also spoke to Russ Raider, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety, who told them that cars with good crash-test ratings are designed to protect all different sizes of people.
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