Car accidents can result in serious injuries and deaths. According to a new study, some obese drivers are 80% more likely to die in a car crash than their normal weight counterparts, with obese women at much higher risk than obese men.
The study, published in the Emergency Medicine Journal, was conducted by transport safety researchers Thomas Rice of the University of California at Berkeley and Motao Zhu of the University of West Virginia. Rice and Zhu used figures from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) which is kept by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They reviewed nearly 57,500 automobile accidents looking for crashes involving two cars of similar size and type, where one or both drivers were killed. Their search resulted in over 3,400 that also included details on the drivers' weight and age, whether they had used a seat belt, and whether airbags were deployed. The records showed hat in these car accidents, nearly half (46%) of the drivers were of normal weight, one in three was overweight, and nearly one in five (18%) was obese.
When they analyzed the figures in terms of risk of death, the researchers found drivers with a BMI between 30 and 34.9 had an increased risk of death of 21% compared to drivers of normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9). Drivers with a BMI of 35 to 39.9 had an increased risk of death of 51%, and the most obese, with a BMI of 40 and over, had an increased risk of death of 80%. Obese female drivers were at even greater risk. For the most obese female drivers (BMI 35 to 39.9), the risk of dying in a car crash was double that of a normal weight female driver. In trying to explain these results, Rice and Zhu note that other studies have found the lower body of heavier drivers travels further forward in a crash before the seatbelt engages the pelvis, while the upper body is held back. This is because the frame of the obese driver has more padding or abdominal fat, which increases the time it takes for the belt to tighten on impact.
The research also showed that underweight male drivers (BMI under 18.5) were also more likely to die in a car crash than their normal weight counterparts.
Do matter what your weight is, drive safely and watch out for those who don't.
Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes represents those injured in car accidents, motorcycle crashes, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents and other types of personal injury matters. His Clearwater law firm – Perenich Caulfield Avril Noyes – is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Pinellas County. Call Attorney Matthew Noyes now at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.