2012-08-09

Co.Exist

Your Fat Is Putting You At Risk For A Deadly Car Accident

Cars’ safety features simply aren’t designed to accommodate the increasing girth of their passengers. Disaster can ensue.

Car accidents are caused by any number of things--drunk driving, inattentiveness, road rage, and sleepiness are just some of the more common reasons why people end up with mangled vehicles and personal injuries. But even if you’re sober, paying close attention to the road, and actively avoiding rogue cars, you may still be at risk if you’re obese enough.

That’s right: A study from researchers at the University of Laval, which drew on research from 75 past medical studies looking at the links between driving and obesity, found that morbidly obese drivers have an increased risk of crashing because of weight-related health issues.

One excerpt explains: "Poor car-to-person fit is thought to be the leading cause of the increased risk of injury and fatality in (motor vehicle collisions) for persons who are obese or overweight versus persons who are normal weight. … For all those individuals that have a body structure different than (the nominal standard) their interactions with the safety features, such as the seat belts and airbags, may not occur as intended.”

The world isn’t going to slim down in the immediate future. Our eating habits aren’t getting any better, and they’re spreading to places that previously had few problems with junk food consumption. So perhaps it’s time for automakers to design vehicles with heavier passenger weights in mind.

And hopefully, more people will be protected from health-related auto accidents in the future thanks to innovations like Toyota’s steering wheel that can detect heart attacks.

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7 Comments

  • You As A Machine

    What a heavy subject. (No pun intended). 

    This sentence really got to me: "So perhaps it’s time for automakers to design vehicles with heavier passenger weights in mind."

    It's simply time for each of us to focus more on being accountable for our health and wellness, period. Time for each of us to appreciate the amazing human machine we are and stop over consuming everything. Our anatomy isn't meant to be overweight, that's why its called overweight. Our health suffers in so many ways as a result. It takes discipline to not overeat and to keep physically active daily. 

    Self-discipline is born from being Consistent.

    I have nothing against anyone who is overweight. My hope is to help people to help themselves, because I believe it is the only way. Visit my anonymous website for step by step instruction on how to incorporate the necessary steps towards a healthier lifestyle. How to use the time that you do have as opposed to waiting for the perfect schedule (which doesn't exist, by-the-way). 

    www.youasamachine.com

  • Michaela

    The obesity problem is indeed huge.  But is accommodating XXL individuals the direction to take?  That's what got us here in the first place: larger and larger average servings.  Extremely overweight people place an undue burden on our health, transportation and food infrastructure and unless we start removing the opportunities to become overweight in the first place -- as Bloomberg is in NYC -- the rest of the conversation is moot.

  • Ariel Schwartz

    Agreed, generally. But this is different than providing large servings of food. It's just about making sure people today aren't put in unnecessary danger. People will get in cars whether they are overweight or not. 

  • KeithBurgie

    If poor car-to-person fit is the problem, are vehicles built for the obese less safe for the svelte?

  • Ariel Schwartz

    Instead we should just say "Sorry, you're out of luck?" Our obesity problem is huge and complicated and won't be solved by denying safety features to people/

  • Matt J. Olsen

    I think designing cars for overweight people is the wrong direction to take here.