Greater Risk Of Motor Vehicle Fatalities in Obese Individuals?

sharma-obesity-car-crashI have previously posted on the issue of motor vehicle injuries and obesity.

Now a study published by Dietrich Jehle and colleagues from the Buffalo School of Medicine, NY, in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, again reports greater fatality risk in individuals with moderate or severe obesity (20 and 60% higher, respectively).

The researchers looked at fatalaties in 155,584 drivers included in the 2000-2005 Fatality Analysis Reporting System stratified by body mass index.

Interestingly, fatality rates in people who were overweight (BMI 25 to <30) or slightly obese (BMI 30 to <35) was actually lower than in those with “normal weight” (BMI 18.5 to <25) or “underweight” (BMI

Thus, as the authors discuss, while a bit of extra fat may prove effective as “cushioning” in preventing more severe injuries, this effect is lost at higher weights.

This may have to do with more that just the excess body fat.

As the authors note:

“An obese driver is forced to sit closer in proximity to the steering column and has less time to reduce his or her increased momentum. Most manufacturers design and test vehicle interiors in accordance with the federal motor vehicle safety standards that use a 50th percentile (BMI, 24.3 kg/m2) male dummy. These designs may not be ideal for the more than one third of the US adult population that is obese.”

I’d certainly like to hear from my readers on what they think about excess weight an motor vehicle safety.

I look forward to your comments.

Edmonton, AB

ResearchBlogging.orgJehle D, Gemme S, & Jehle C (2012). Influence of obesity on mortality of drivers in severe motor vehicle crashes. The American journal of emergency medicine, 30 (1), 191-5 PMID: 21129887