Obese drivers more likely to die in car crashes

Moderately obese people, who have a body mass index greater than 30, typically shave three years off of their lives, just by being overweight. (Morbidly obese people lose 10 years, according to one study.) And then there’s that long list of potential health problems obese people face in America ranging from asthma and diabetes to heart disease and cancer – as well as scorn and ridicule from skinny judgmental people. So it only makes sense that obese people are statistically less likely to survive a severe automobile accident.

A study of fatal accidents by the University of Buffalo suggests that the bigger you are, the more likely you’ll die from injuries sustained in an accident.

In a severe accident, moderately obese people face a 21 percent greater risk of death and morbidly obese people are 56 percent more likely to die than those of lesser weight.

“The severity and patterns of crash injuries depend on a complex interaction of biomechanical factors, including deceleration velocity at impact, seat belt and air bag use, vehicle type and weight, and type of impact,” says Dr. Dietrick Jehle, professor of emergency medicine at University of Buffalo School of Medicine.

With nearly one-third of the American population now considered obese, Jehle suggests carmakers begin testing safety equipment with big boned dummies and devise other means to help obese people better survive accidents.

“The rate of obesity is continuing to rise, so it is imperative that car designs are modified to protect the obese population, and that crash tests are done using a full range of dummy sizes,” Jehle states.

Dieting and exercise were never mentioned.


First, it was fat people using up an additional billion gallons of gas every year. Now, they are more likely to die in a car crash. It seems like we do like to pick on fat people. Seriously, it is just simple physic. You can’t make cars any safer for fat people without penalizing or taxing regular folks. Being obese poses certain health/safety risks, and this is just another one of them.

Here is a working link to the article cited in the first post


And here is the university press release on which it was based


The way the press release is written, I can’t be certain but I think the research claims that BMI is an independent risk factor from simple body size. If so, it is a finding which is worth noting.

It seems reasonable to assume that a 250 lb man, in a car traveling at highway speed, will impact with greater force than a 150 man traveling at the same speed. However, if an obese man who weighs 250 lbs is more likely to die than a 250 lb man with a normal BMI, then it raises the question as to why there is a greater mortality. Is the force of impact distributed in a different manner through the body? Is healing impaired? Is it due to pre-existing health problems?

If the difference in mortality is due to how the force of impact is distributed in overweight individuals, then this might be important to take into consideration in car design. Regardless, the call to for safety testing to use crash test dummies of a size proportional to US residents seems reasonable.

I knew a fat guy who was injured in a crash. The doctors said that his “fat belly” cushioned the blow and saved his organs from damage. It depends on circumstances.

Being morbidly obese is never a good idea, but these studies are generally a waste of time.

Americans are getting heavier as automakers are making automobiles lighter.

We can never tell if their obesity is the problem. Being fat doesn’t mean they can’t do their jobs. I would like to see some of these drivers lose weight and take better care of themselves. As long as they can do the job then I see no reason to give them a hard time or force them out of the business.

However, I have read an article entitled Are obese motorists negating fuel efficiency gains?.

According to a blog post and an infographic, the growing epidemic of obese motorists in America may be cutting into the efforts of automakers to reduce the weight of passenger vehicles, and therefore to increase the miles per gallon of fuel.


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