NPR

New Crash Test Dummy To Gain Pounds To Reflect Fatalities Among Obese

The new crash test dummy — not this one — will weigh 271 lbs and have a body mass index of 35. Automakers use the dummies to prove their vehicles are roadworthy. (iStockphoto)

More than one-third of Americans are obese, and one recent study showed that obese drivers are more likely to die in a car crash. So the world's largest maker of dummies is making one that is obese.

"Obese occupants are up to 78 percent more likely to die in a car crash than an average weight driver," Humanetics President and CEO Christopher O'Connor told Crash Test Technology International, a trade publication. "Having a body mass index of 35-39.9 percent increases your risk of death by 51 percent."

O'Connor said Humanetics is making an obese crash test dummy that weighs about 271 lbs and has a BMI of 35 that can measure belt and airbag loads generated during crashes. He said a prototype dummy was used in August to evaluate sleds.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines as obese a person who is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 203 lbs or more, with a BMI of 30 or higher.

In an interview with CNN, O'Connor said the reason for the increased fatality rate is the way we get fat.

"We get fat in our middle range," he said. "And we get out of position in a typical seat."

Traditional crash test dummies weigh about 167 lbs, and automakers must use the dummies to prove their vehicles are safe before being sold in the U.S. and Europe.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Most Popular