Obese drivers more likely to die in road accidents
They suggest the most obese drivers are 80% more likely to die in a car crash than their normal weight counterparts, with obese women at much higher risk than obese men.
For their study, Rice and Zhu analyzed figures from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). This database, which is kept by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, records all road deaths arising within 30 days of a traffic collision.
The study covered the period 1996 to 2008, during which the database recorded nearly 57,500 road traffic collisions.
An interesting result was that underweight male drivers (BMI under 18.5) were also more likely to die in a car crash than their normal weight counterparts.
In trying to explain these results, Rice and Zhu note that other studies have found the lower body of heavier drivers travels further forward in a crash before the seatbelt engages the pelvis, while the upper body is held back. This is because the frame of the obese driver has more padding or abdominal fat, which increases the time it takes for the belt to tighten on impact.
Another reason for obese drivers having a greater risk of death, could be because they are more likely to have underlying health problems.