The consequences of the obesity epidemic in the United States have particularly far-reaching implications. A recent report links obesity with a higher rate of fatality in car crashes. Motorists suffering from obesity are more likely to die in car accidents than people of average weight according to a study published in the BMJ Group’s Emergency Medicine Journal.
Researchers studied data from tens of thousands of accident reports and determined that obese drivers—for whatever reason—had a higher likelihood of death in a car accident than people of average weight involved in similar accidents. Their findings suggest that seat belts may be part of the risks. Though other health-related issues may make obese drivers more likely to sufferer catastrophic injuries in a crash, the seat belts in most cars may be poorly designed for obese drivers. Though that is not a conclusive finding, the study does imply something troubling.
As the U.S. population continues to gain weight, car designers should consider re-designing seat belts at least until a wide-spread cure is developed and implemented for obesity. While eating healthy and exercising on a daily basis may provide the best hope for a cure, the reality is that people who may have otherwise survived a car accident are dying in motor vehicle crashes and prematurely leaving children, spouses and wide networks of loved ones. Vehicle manufacturers have a responsibility to protect the people who operate their machines. If they do not make this responsibility a priority for all drivers, more and more people will suffer unnecessarily.