Source: Humanetics

The reason car accidents are more dangerous for overweight people, and what one company is doing about it.

Amelia Harnish
October 30, 2014

There is no getting around it: Americans' waistlines are growing. And as we continue to widen, it's time the crash test dummies—the vinyl and metal soldiers that help manufacturers build safer cars—catch up, ABC News reports.

Currently, the crash test dummy is modeled after a person who weighs 167 pounds and has a healthy body mass index. But Humanetics, the only U.S. company that produces them, has announced that the organization will be designing new dummies that weigh 267 pounds and have a BMI of 35, which counts as morbidly obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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A study from the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health found that obese drivers are 78% more likely to die in a car crash compared to thinner people.

So really, it's about time. If seat belts, air bags, and other safety features are designed for thinner people, it's not a stretch to say this may be part of the reason why accidents are more dangerous for people who are overweight. They don't fit larger people the same way, Humanetics CEO Chris O'Conner explains to ABC News.

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"Typically you want someone in a very tight position with their rear against the back of their seat and the seat belt tight to the pelvis," he said. "An obese person has more mass around [their] 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."

While we all could do better to turn back the rising tide of obesity, in the meantime, accidents happen. We're glad to see someone is working on making the cars we drive safer for every body.

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