Why overweight people are more likely to die in accidents

Why overweight people are more likely to die in accidents

A guest article by Anja Wolfmaier

It is a well-known fact that driving a car has its risks. However, the fact that overweight road users are exposed to a higher risk behind the wheel is new. According to a new study, overweight people die more often in traffic accidents than normal-weight drivers! Accordingly, those suffering from obesity not only risk their health, but also risk their lives through negligence in traffic. Researchers from the USA have now found out why this is so and what negligence is meant.

As early as 2010, the emergency physicians at the University of Buffalo noticed that overweight and obese people – with a BMI of 40 and above – die more frequently as a result of traffic accidents. The probability of succumbing to the consequences of the car accident is 56 percent higher than for accident victims of normal weight. A study found the reason for this. The astonishing result is more obvious than one might think at first: Fat people simply don’t buckle up in their cars. So the belt is to blame.

dummyThis result was shown to the scientists by browsing through, examining and analyzing a total of more than 330,000 traffic accident files. The only clear connection between all accidents involving people who are overweight shows that they wear their seat belts much less frequently. A fat person is 67 percent less likely to buckle up than a slim driver. The reasons for this are pure speculation and remain unclear.

Seat belts were first introduced in Germany in 1974 and initially went unpunished. The argument for seat belts was a purely economic decision. The seat belt requirement was introduced “to avert the economic damage caused by bodily harm (…).” This source comes from Wikipedia and still makes sense today. Years later, driving without a seat belt is punished. A fine of 30 euros is now due if road users are caught not wearing their seat belts. However, what many have probably forgotten since their driving school days: at walking speed and reversing, there is no obligation to buckle up.

The decision to forgo the seat belt and the security it provides can often be a death sentence – especially for obese people. The author of the study, Dietrich Jehle, who was involved in evaluating the data, agrees. He also points out to seat belt manufacturers that attention should also be paid to heavy drivers when manufacturing seat belts. All dummies are thin and slim. But what happens to fat people during an accident has not yet been investigated. Therefore, the extent of a traffic accident for overweight people is difficult to analyze and research…

However, to reduce the unnecessary risk of a fatal traffic accident, there is only one thing that can be done: buckle up. The belt wasn’t introduced for nothing. Even if it sometimes squeezes and pulls, the seat belt can save lives. Everyone should be aware of that!

A guest article by Anja Wolfmaier

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