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Help! I've Eaten and I Can't Buckle Up

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On: Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 1:59PM | By: Karen Cook

Help! I've Eaten and I Can't Buckle Up

One third of the population in American is overweight. Another third is obese. Why bring this up on an automotive website? People who are in this category either can’t or won’t wear seatbelts, which has been recently reported in a study published online by the American Journal of Emergency Medicine.

The journal tapped into the US database and examined almost 200,000 cases of fatal car crashes. The researchers found that, of those involved in those accidents, people who were of average weight were 66% more likely to be wearing a seatbelt than those who were obese. The close a person gets to morbidly obese the less likely he or she is to buckle up. 60% of “overweight” individuals use a seatbelt. That drops to 39% if you’re “slightly overweight” and 23% if you are “moderately overweight”.

For some of these people, not wearing a seatbelt is a choice. Obviously, the larger you are the less comfortable the average seatbelt becomes. For some at the higher end of the scale though, the belts simply don’t fit. The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards were set back in the 1960s and required safety restraints to accommodate men and women up to 215 pounds, which covered most of the populace at the time.

The study called for car manufacturers to use longer seatbelts and to test with larger dummies to maintain safety for the larger folks who may buy their cars.

I’m all for safer vehicles and I don’t want to see anyone die in a car crash if it can be avoided. I also realize that some weight issues are systemic and not the result of putting too much food in one’s mouth. On the other hand, if society accommodates a grossly unhealthy lifestyle it becomes the norm and there is no incentive to change. Following the “survival of the fittest” theory, if people can’t safely travel in a vehicle perhaps they learn a lesson. Those that don’t learn must be sacrificed.


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