According to a new study by researchers from the Safe Transportation Education and Research Center at the University of California, obese passengers are more likely to sustain fatal injuries in a car accident when compared with passengers who are a healthy weight. The study, published in the Emergency Medicine Journal, expressed concerns about the ability of passenger vehicles to safely accommodate obese passengers and drivers.
Study Suggests Obese Passengers May be More at Risk
Researchers examined data of fatal accidents between 1996 and 2008, which were recorded through the US Fatality Analysis Reporting System. Between 1996 and 2008, the data showed that there were 57,491 car accidents. For about 3,403 people information about weight and seat belt use was available. Of these 3,403 people, 18% were obese, a third were overweight, and almost half were a healthy weight (based on BMI). Looking at the data, researchers found that those with a BMI (body mass index) of 30-34.9 had a 21% higher chance of dying in a car crash when compared with passengers and drivers of a healthy weight. Drivers and passengers with a BMI of 35-39.9 had a 51% higher risk of fatal injuries. Those who were severely obese with a BMI of at least 40 had an 80% higher chance of dying in a car accident when compared with those of a normal weight.
Researchers concluded that at least once possible explanation may be related to seat belt use. The study found that one third of those who died in the car accidents were not properly wearing a seat belt. The study’s authors concluded that some people who are severely obese may not be able to wear a seat belt properly or may choose not to wear a seat belt because it is not comfortable.
The study authors also suggested that in a car collision the lower body of an obese passenger is pushed forward more before the seatbelt engages. This is due to the extra tissue and body mass which keeps the belt from fitting snugly. The upper body is held back more while the pelvis moves forward, which the researchers believe may lead to more serious injuries.
The study’s authors also suggested that obese drivers and passengers may have more underlying health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiac problems, and other conditions which can affect their recovery if they sustain serious injury.
What does this mean for obese drivers and passengers in South Florida?
The study suggests that drivers and passengers who are obese are more at risk of serious injuries in the event of a car accident in Fort Lauderdale and other communities. The study’s authors suggested that seatbelts sometimes do not fit obese passengers as well as they could. Hopefully, car and truck manufacturers will consider creating seatbelts for obese passengers and drivers so that these motorists can stay safer in the event of a truck accident in For Lauderdale and other communities. Traffic accidents in Fort Lauderdale and Florida already claim too many lives. Creating safety devices that work correctly for passengers of all sizes and shapes would certainly be a step in the right direction.