Car accidents happen for many reasons. Maybe too many to list. Some reasons are more common than others: Intoxication, drowsiness, distraction. These are some of the big ones. But a recent study conducted by the University of Laval, in Canada, suggests that obesity may play a role in a driver’s risk for car accidents. Not only that — a morbidly obese driver, it is reported, is also at risk for more serious injuries in the event of a car accident.
The crux of this study harkens to the now years-old conversation regarding obese passengers on airplanes. The problem, to start, is that car manufacturers do not often consider morbidly obese drivers and passengers when designing automobiles. The interior of many cars can be less accommodating for an overweight driver; meaning these drivers have less room in the vehicle than would a normal driver. Because of this, a car accident can have more catastrophic results for obese drivers and passengers.
One of the factors here is that manufacturers design safety features for drivers and passengers of a more normal weight. An obese driver or passenger is then interacting with airbags and seatbelts in a way not anticipated during design stages. Also, mildly to morbidly obese drivers are closer to the steering column and other instruments necessary to driving. This closeness could result in delayed reaction time or a decreased ability to maneuver in the event of a car accident. CBS News reports that most cars are generally designed for men and women weighing about 163 pounds.
Among the potential injuries which a morbidly obese driver can sustain in the event of a car accident are head injuries, chest injuries, and spinal injuries.
Keeping these revelations in mind, it would be a good idea for overweight drivers to buy larger automobiles which can better accommodate their size. Also, moving the driver’s seat as far back as possible is a good idea. If the steering wheel touches a driver’s body at all times, the driver is at more of a risk of serious injuries in the event of a car accident.
A 2010 survey showed that about 1 out of every 3 Americans were approximately thirty pounds heavier than they should be. Those affected by obesity are at risk for countless health complications. Among strokes, heart problems and diabetes, car accidents are now a real danger to overweight Americans.
To see different ways car manufacturers are plotting to relieve drivers, start with this article on a new steering wheel Toyota is developing. The steering wheel has a built-in ECG which will alert a driver if he or she is showing signs of arrhythmia or heart attacks.