A recent study from the University of Buffalo shows that “morbidly obese” individuals, or those with a body mass index of at least 40, are 67 per cent less likely to buckle their seatbelts than normal weight drivers. The study, led by Dietrich Jehle, hypothesizes that obese people are not buckling up because the seatbelts found on normal production cars are just too tight.
The findings build on a 2010 study that found that morbidly obese people are 56 per cent more likely to die in a crash than normal weight individuals, possibly because they did not wear seatbelts.
“There should be more publicity that it’s harder to buckle up if you’re large,” Jehle, a professor of emergency medicine and associate medical director at Erie County Medical centre, told Business Insider. “Belt extenders are poorly publicized.”
Jehle said that seatbelt extenders, which come in four different sizes, should come standard in the U.S. with the purchase of a vehicle.
“One-third of our country is obese and another third is overweight,” Jehle said. Car companies should adjust to the modern times, he added.
To decrease the number of fatalities, Jehle suggests making a crash test dummy that reflects our overweight society.
“Testing dummies should be larger to more closely mimic the population,” he said. “Any occupant in a vehicle is now larger than the dummy.”
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