Roads Are Deadlier for Obese Drivers

Risk of crash death soars with driver weight

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 22, 2013 1:33 AM CST
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(Newser) – Obesity can be deadly even behind the wheel, according to a new study. Researchers examined thousands of crashes involving similar-sized vehicles and found that obese people were more likely to die in crashes than people of normal weight, with the risk of death increasing along with one's body mass index, reports the New York Times. The heaviest drivers were 80% more likely to be killed in crashes than those of normal weight.

It's not clear why crashes are deadlier for obese drivers, but researchers believe it could be down to obese people's generally poorer health, as well as the lack of obese crash-test dummies. "Vehicle designers are teaching to the test—designing so that crash-test dummies do well," the study's lead author says. "But crash-test dummies are typically normal size adults and children. They’re not designed to account for our nation’s changing body types."

Crash-testers aren't using obese dummies, the study's author notes.
Crash-testers aren't using obese dummies, the study's author notes.   (AP Photo/IIHS)
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It’s one more reason to lose weight. - Study author Thomas M. Rice,
an epidemiologist at the University of California, Berkeley's Transportation Research and Education Center

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