Obese Are More Likely to Suffer Deadly Consequences From Car Accidents
When I was a youngster, a typical Sunday activity was to pack all of the family members into our car and go for a leisurely drive. We would take in the sights on one country road or another and chat away a portion of that sunny afternoon. Ice cream was usually had at the end of our shared journey and, as I was about seven-years-old at the time, there could be no better conclusion. It was an abbreviated getaway shared by many families in my neighborhood.
As we cruised the highways in search of an exit to some back road, an interesting behavior was spotted almost without fail each and every Sunday. Some person driving in an adjacent lane would be motoring along while reading a newspaper. The Sunday edition of whatever publication would be propped against the steering wheel while the driving focused on the news of the day in his multi-ton moving library. The actual operation of the vehicle seemed like an afterthought. This behavior seemed ridiculous and dangerous, even to my seven-year-old eyes. All those in my family agreed that the newspaper reading fellow in the adjacent lane was an accident waiting to happen.
Such behavior is rarely sighted anymore. We now have text messaging as the replacement danger, and those accidents-in-waiting eventually become accidents in fact. If you are obese and on the receiving end of one of these accidents, the chances of a deadly outcome are much greater for you than the average.
Obese Drivers Face Increased Possibility of Death in Car Crashes
A study published in the January 2013 online edition of the American Journal of Emergency Medicine states that obese drivers are about 20% more likely to die in automobile crashes than normal weight people. Those who qualify as morbidly obese were 80% more likely to die in a crash than normal weight people. Even after other risk factors such as age, use of alcohol, seat belt use, and air bag deployment were factored into the equation the results remained the same.
The risk for death increased in tandem with an increase in weight. Those at the lowest level of obesity were 21% more likely to die in a crash than normal weight people, those at the next level were 51% more likely to die, and those at the highest level were 80% more likely to die. It was also noted that obese women were at greater risk than were obese men.
One of the explanations for the study results is that obese people are more likely to have a co-morbid condition such as cardiovascular disease that can increase the possibility of death if in a car crash.
Another reason was that obese people traveled further in their seat belts when in a car crash than do normal weight people. The delayed activation of the seat belt is attributed to the additional soft tissue obese people carry in the abdomen. This extra tissue does not allow the seat belt to fit close to the pelvis, and it is the engagement between the seat belts and the pelvis that interrupts forward motion in a front end collision.
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Published On: January 13, 2014