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Obese drivers involved in more fatal car accidents

Obese drivers are more likely to die in car accidents compared to drivers who are not overweight or obese, according to a new study by the Emergency Medicine Journal. Obese drivers are more at risk for being killed in car accidents because passenger vehicles do not protect these passengers as well as normal weight passengers.

The study found that the risk of death increased depending on a person's body-mass index (BMI). People considered morbidly obese were 80 percent more likely to be in a fatal car accident compared to normal weight people.

Researchers said that vehicle design may be one of the main contributing factors in why obese drivers are more likely to die in car accidents. They said that vehicles are designed to protect normal weight passengers but may be ineffective in protecting overweight or obese passengers. The study cited inappropriate vehicle design, bad fitting seat belts and underlying health problems in obese passengers as the main reasons they are involved in more fatal car accidents.

One of the main reasons overweight and obese passengers are not protected as well is because seat belts do not fit properly. While the upper part of the seat belt protects these passengers, it takes the seat belt longer to engage around an obese person's pelvis, often resulting in injuries during a car accident.

The researchers called for more awareness of safety designs and protections in vehicles. They also said that automakers should create larger crash-test dummies to address the changing body types of the American population.

Source: Edmunds, "Obese Drivers More Likely To Die in Car Crashes, Study Says," Anita Lienert, Jan. 25, 2013

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