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Obesity and Car Accidents

auto accident

If you are like most of us after the holidays, you could probably stand to lose a few pounds. In fact, losing weight is always a popular New Year’s resolution—and one of the hardest to stick with.

But there is a good reason to make 2019 the year to slim down your waistline. Research has shown obese drivers and passengers are at a higher risk of serious injuries in car accidents. This might be all the motivation you need to shed some excess weight this new year.

Increased Risk of Fatalities

Based on a 2013 study, drivers who had a BMI of 30.0 to 34.9 were 21% more likely to die than a driver who was of normal weight. (A normal BMI would be between 18.5 and 25). The risk of death in a car accident increased along with body mass:

●     A BMI of 35 to 39.9 increased the risk of fatality by 51%

●     A BMI of 40.0 or greater increased the risk of fatality by a staggering 80% 

What explained the higher risk? According to researchers, an obese person’s lower body will be pushed forward on impact. The seat belt cannot restrain the body until it reaches the pelvis, which takes longer because of all the extra fat in the stomach area. At the same time, the upper body is restrained by the upper part of the belt, which contributes to fatal injuries.

Also, researchers speculate that obese people tend to have worse general health, which can make it much harder to survive a traumatic event like a car crash. Another contributing factor could be car design, which is based on a person of average weight. Crash dummies were first developed in the 1970s, when people were generally slimmer.

Interestingly, the same study found that underweight people also had an increased risk of death, so there was not a benefit to be gained from losing too much weight.

Obesity can Contribute to Accidents

Being overweight not only increases the risk of death, but it might contribute to car accidents in the first place. For example, sleep apnea increases the risk of accidents as the driver could fall asleep behind the wheel. Obesity is the number one cause of developing obstructive sleep apnea.

An obese person is also at greater risk of developing diabetes and could experience a drop in blood glucose levels while driving. The fastest way to counteract a drop is to eat something, but that will also increase distraction, a serious contributor to auto accidents.

Take Control

To lose weight safely, experts recommend increasing regular exercise and decreasing calories moderately. It is better to lose weight in a slow and steady fashion than to crash diet or take supplements that can cause stress. You don’t want to have a heart attack behind the wheel, either!

If you have been injured in a crash, and someone else is to blame, contact the Law Offices of David J. Hernandez & Associates in Brooklyn today. We help injured people receive the compensation they must have to get on with their lives.

You can schedule a free consultation by calling 718-407-4123.


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