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Obese Drivers More Likely to Die in Collisions

Today, the United States is facing an obesity epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35.7% of American adults – more than one third – are obese. 16.9% of American children and adolescents also fall into this category. Obesity is defined by a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. Having a BMI of 25 or greater means an individual is overweight.

Obesity is correlated with many different health conditions and a greater risk of suffering injuries. This includes a greater risk of being injured or killed in a car accident. According to research by UC Berkeley’s Safe Transportation and Research Education Center (SafeTREC), obese individuals are 78% more likely to die in car accidents than individuals with healthy weights. When an individual dies in a car accident that could have been prevented, no matter what he or she weighed, his or her loved ones may seek compensation for related damages through a wrongful death claim.

Extra Fat Keeps the Seatbelt from Tightening Properly

The reason why obese drivers are less likely to survive collisions is that their seatbelts do not tighten securely around their lower bodies. While an obese driver’s upper body is kept in place by the shoulder strap, his or her lower body is propelled forward in a crash because the excess soft tissue in this area prevents the seatbelt from engaging the pelvis as it was designed to do. To work correctly, the lap belt should fit securely across a driver or passenger’s pelvis. It should be worn low on the lap and pulled as tightly as the individual can comfortably pull it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), wearing a seatbelt during a collision reduces a driver or front seat passenger’s risk of being seriously injured by 50%. It also reduces his or her risk of dying in the collision by 45%. In 2009, 53% of drivers and passengers who died in collisions were not wearing

their seatbelts when the collisions occurred. Obese individuals, particularly morbidly obese individuals, are less likely than the average individual to wear seatbelts and to wear them properly. This is likely because seatbelts designed for non-obese individuals are uncomfortable for obese drivers and passengers. Authors of a recent study of the greater fatality risk obese individuals face in collisions published in BMJ Group’s Emergency Medicine Journal stated that to reduce the number of traffic fatalities, vehicle manufacturers must adapt their designs to better accommodate obese individuals.

Work with an Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyer

If you lost a loved one in an accident, you could be entitled to file a wrongful death claim to recover compensation for your damages related to the death. To learn more, contact our team of experienced wrongful death lawyers at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd today to set up your initial legal consultation in our office. We are here to answer your questions and be your advocate as you pursue compensation for your damages.

Published February 22, 2018
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