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Study Claims Obesity is Linked to Increased Traffic Deaths in New Mexico and Nationwide

Posted in Auto Accidents

According to the nation’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 35 percent of Americans are currently considered obese. A study recently published in the Emergency Medicine Journal claims that obese drivers are more likely to be killed in a traffic collision than individuals with a normal body mass index (BMI). As part of the study, researchers from the Safe Transportation Research and Education Center of the University of California at Berkeley reportedly analyzed data collected by the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System between 1996 and 2008. They then compared more than 3,400 pairs of drivers who were a similar weight, age, and involved in a comparable accident type. Approximately 46 percent of the driver pairs analyzed had a normal BMI, while about 33 percent were considered overweight. In addition, 18 percent of motorists examined had a BMI of 30 or above which is considered obese according to the definition established by the World Health Organization.

Dr. Thomas M. Rice, Epidemiologist and lead study author, said the study results suggest obese drivers are at an increased risk of dying in a traffic collision. Additionally, Rice stated the risk of death allegedly increases based upon the severity of obesity. For example, motorists with a BMI of 30 to 34.9 were purportedly 21 percent more likely to die in a collision than drivers with a normal BMI. Individuals with a BMI of 35 to 39.9 were reportedly 51 percent more likely to be killed and those with a BMI of 40 or above were allegedly 80 percent more likely to die in a wreck. The study found that underweight men were also more likely to be killed in a traffic accident.

Study authors purportedly believe the reason for the increased rate of traffic fatalities has to do with how a seat belt fits and restrains an obese driver. Rice stated that previous research has demonstrated a safety belt does not engage the pelvis properly in individuals who are extremely overweight. This reportedly results in the lower body moving farther forward in a crash than recommended. Additionally, some obese drivers allegedly fail to wear a seat belt because it is uncomfortable. In response, study authors suggest that vehicle design modifications and the use of larger crash test dummies may be necessary in order to increase safety for all motorists traveling in New Mexico and throughout the country.

According to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 81 percent of motorists across the nation utilized a safety restraint in 2006. In the State of New Mexico, nearly 90 percent of drivers wore a seat belt during the same time period. In addition, about 50 percent of drivers and passengers killed in a New Mexico traffic accident in 2006 failed to wear a safety belt. Although all drivers in our state are required to wear a seat belt, New Mexico is a comparative fault accident state. This means someone who was injured in a crash may be entitled to recover damages even if they failed to use a safety restraint. You should contact a skilled lawyer after any injury accident to discuss your options for recovery.

If you were hurt or a family member was killed in a New Mexico automobile accident, please contact the Fine Law Firm. Our dedicated Albuquerque car accident attorneys are available to help you recover the compensation you deserve following a vehicle crash. At the Fine Law Firm, our capable lawyers have more than 100 years of combined experience handling thousands of car, motorcycle, truck, and other injury accident cases throughout the State of New Mexico. To schedule a free confidential case evaluation, call the Fine Law Firm today at (505) 889-3463 or contact our knowledgeable lawyers through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Three Killed, Two Hurt in Head-On Truck Collision on I-40 Near Grants, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, January 15, 2013
Santa Fe Teacher Killed in Accident on I-25 Near La Cienega, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, December 28, 2012
Additional Resources:

Study: Obese drivers more likely to die in crashes, by Cathy Payne, USA Today

Obese drivers more likely to die in car accidents, study finds, by Michelle Castillo,