Crash test dummies are getting fatter so they better represent the expanding waistlines and bigger “rear ends” of American drivers.
Humanetics, one of the leading manufacturers of the dummies in the U.S. and worldwide, developed a new model that better mimics the country’s population. About 35 per cent of Americans are considered obese. The old dummies were based on statistics from the 1980s, O’Connor said, and represented someone who is 169 pounds with a body mass index of about 25. The new dummy for sale to car manufacturers represents someone who is 270 pounds with a body mass index of 35. Studies have found that obese drivers are at an increased risk of death compared to average-sized ones. Humanetics took the statistics seriously and wanted to do something in response. One study, published by the University at Buffalo in 2010, found that morbidly obese people were 56 per cent more likely to die in a crash than normal weight individuals. Moderately obese people were 21 per cent more likely to die.
Increase of Risk for Obese Drivers Shown in Studies
This is the new, bigger, crash test dummy that has been developed by Humanetics in response to an American population that is one-third obese. Seatbelt positioning on obese people is one reason they may not survive a crash. A seatbelt is supposed to fit nicely, but in the obese population it doesn’t operate the same way. Researchers have also theorized that heavier people could be flung from a car with greater force than lighter people. Another study from the University at Buffalo in 2012 found that obese drivers are less likely to wear seatbelts than normal weight drivers and that puts them at increased risk of injury or death in the event of a crash. O’Connor said it makes sense to make dummies more representative of the population and that it will lead to safer vehicles. O’Connor did point out obesity is not just an American or North American problem, noting that China and India also have rising obesity rates. Obesity is on the rise, and this new idea could save many people from injury or death.