The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute just released the results of a study that found that obese men who are wearing seat belts are 22% more likely to survive a car crash than underweight men.
The study found that male drivers with a body mass index (BMI) between 35 and 50 are 22% less likely to die in a fatal car crash than male drivers with a BMI between 15 and 18.4. The study also found that this only holds true if the drivers are wearing a seat belt. Obese men who are not wearing a seat belt are at 10% greater risk of dying than underweight men with no seat belt. The researchers explained that this may occur because higher weights overload the airbags. Seat belts help prevent air bag overload.
The researchers analyzed data on 300,000 drivers who were involved in fatal collisions (those accidents in which there was at least one death) between 1998 and 2008. The data was collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a federal agency that compiles and publishes annual traffic accident statistics. Fifty-one percent of the drivers in the study were killed in the crashes.
The study also looked at female drivers who wear seat belts. Female drivers are 1.1 times more likely to die in a car crash than male drivers. Female drivers with extremely high or low BMIs have a slightly larger risk of death than those with a normal amount of body fat.
Among all drivers, those who do not wear seat belts are 2.1 times more likely to die in a car crash than drivers who are restrained by a seat belt. The study emphasizes the fact that seat belts save lives!
The authors of the study suggested that the designs of seat belts, air bags, and other car safety devices may need to be redesigned in order to provide maximum protection a larger range of drivers.
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