In recent years, healthcare professionals have worked hard to raise awareness about health risks such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes that are commonly associated with obesity. With obesity affecting more than one third of all adults in the U.S., this has become an increasingly prevalent issue in the healthcare industry. Now, a new study conducted by researchers at UC Berkeley’s Safe Transportation and Research Education Center has found that obesity can dramatically increase the risk of traffic fatalities as well.
The study found that obese drivers are nearly 80 percent more likely to die in a car accident than drivers with healthy weights. The researchers behind the study attributed their findings to the fact that safety features such as seatbelts and airbags are ill-equipped to protect overweight drivers in the event of an accident. An overweight driver’s added abdominal mass can prevent seatbelts from fitting properly, and propel their body further forward in collisions. These two factors can make car accidents especially dangerous for obese adults.
In their conclusions, the research team noted that “it may be the case that passenger vehicles are well designed to protect normal-weight vehicles occupants but are deficient in protecting overweight or obese occupants.” Interestingly enough, the study also found that underweight male drivers were more likely to die in car accidents than men of average weights.
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