Personal Injury Lawyer West Palm Beach & South Florida

Obese Drivers More Likely to Die in Palm Beach Car Crashes

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third of American adults are obese.  The CDC considers obesity a major cause of premature death. Obesity has been linked to increased risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, strokes, arthritis, and breathing complications. Now researchers say that obesity may also increase the risk of death in a Florida motor vehicle accident.

The study was conducted by epidemiologists at the Transportation Research and Education Center of the University of California, Berkeley. Doctors analyzed data from the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System for 1996 to 2008; 57,491 accidents were recorded during the 12-year period.

The study involved only accidents involving two passenger vehicles where the most influential component in the death of at least one driver was the impact of the crash.  The researchers selected 3,403 pairs of drivers that had similar weights, ages, air bag deployment, and seat belt use and compared risks of death.


Participants in the Study:  

Normal weight drivers: 46%

Overweight drivers: 33%

Obese drivers: 18%

Male: 67%

Female: 33%

Age 16-24: 33%

Age >24: 67%

Driver not using seatbelt correctly: 33%

Airbag deployed: 53%


After analyzing the data, researchers found that people who were considered obese had a higher risk of dying in a car crash, and that the greater the obesity, the greater the additional risk.


World Health Organization classification of obesity level Additional car accident fatality risk
Obesity level I (BMI of 30.0 to 34.9) 21 percent more likely to die than normal weight drivers
Obesity level II (BMI of 35 to 39.9) 51 percent more likely to die
Obesity level III (BMI of 40.0 or greater) 80 percent more likely to die


When results were broken down by gender, obese women were more likely to die than obese men, and underweight male drivers also had an slightly increased risk of accident death compared to normal weight drivers.

Why the increased risk? Researchers say there may be two reasons. The first is that obese drivers may be more likely to have underlying health problems that affect the ability to recover from car accident injuries. The second is that cars are designed to protect normal weight drivers.

During a Palm Beach car accident, the extra soft tissue in the lower body of obese drivers keeps the seat belt from tightening around the pelvis.  The upper body is kept restrained while the lower body is pushed forward.  This may cause fatal injuries.

The researchers say that car designs may need to change in order to protect obese drivers.

The study was published online in the January 21, 2013, issue of Emergency Medicine Journal.

Regardless of the size of the driver, every Florida car crash death is preventable. If you have lost a loved one to a reckless or negligent driver, you have the right to seek accountability. To learn more, request a free copy of The Florida Accident Workbook: Tools, Tips & Tactics to Resolve Your Injury Claim or contact Palm Beach accident injury attorney David Glatthorn at 866-413-5525.

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Since 1980, Attorney David Glatthorn has been serving the residents of West Palm Beach. He works in many areas of personal injury law, including car accidents, slip and fall injuries, workplace injuries and many others. Attorney Glatthorn is known for his dedication and experience. If you were injured due to another person's negligence, call David Glatthorn Law today.

David J. Glatthorn, P.A.
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