Obese driving risk

Here’s an obesity stat you may not have heard before: Obese drivers are significantly more likely to die in a traffic collision than people of normal weight.

That’s according to new research published online in Emergency Medicine Journal.

Researchers looked at data from the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System from 1996 to 2008. During that period, details about 57,491 collisions were submitted to the system.

Researchers looked at collisions in which both parties had been driving similar two-passenger vehicles. The research included 3,403 pairs of drivers who met the criteria.

Nearly half of the drivers (46 percent) were of normal weight. One in three was overweight. And nearly one in five (18 percent) was obese.
The analysis showed that risk of death increased the more obese the driver was, according to the World Health Organization classification, which categorizes obesity from levels I to III.

At level I, obese drivers were 21 percent more likely to die. At level II, they were 51 percent more likely to die. And at level III, drivers were 80 percent more likely to die than drivers of normal weight.

The researchers also suggest obese drivers may be more likely to have underlying health problems, which could contribute to their greater risk of death. But they also suggest care design may need to change.

“The ability of passenger vehicles to protect overweight or obese occupants may have increasingly important public health implications, given the continuing obesity epidemic in the USA,” they wrote. “It may be the case that passenger vehicles are well designed to protect normal weight vehicle occupants but are deficient in protecting overweight or obese occupants.”

Scroll to top