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Increasing weight of Americans may mean decreased auto safety

In Alabama, when an individual is wrongfully killed due to the negligence of another, the surviving family of the victim can seek financial compensation for their loss. In a wrongful death trial, a lawyer will aim to demonstrate the suffering caused to the victim by a negligent party while simultaneously shedding light on the preventable loss that a family is made to suffer. While monetary compensation cannot reverse these happenings or the ensuing heart ache, it is the best method our legal system has to allow families to hold negligent parties accountable.

Because there is no way for us to bring back our loved ones that are wrongfully taken, many dedicate their careers to studying safety and seeking to determine ways to prevent loss of life so that fewer families have to shoulder this trauma. Car accidents are a significant source of wrongful deaths. Unfortunately, there will likely always be negligent drivers on the roads in Huntsville and the rest of Alabama. While laws will continue to be passed to curb negligent behavior, safety experts will also continue looking to identify patterns that contribute to high fatality and injury rates.

An unsettling correlation that new research has identified is that obesity leads to a higher risk of a driver being killed on impact. Adults in Alabama that are classified at the highest level of obesity stand at a markedly increased risk of dying when in a car accident. Compared to a non-obese individual, those adults are 80 percent more likely to be unable to survive impact. A hypothesis regarding why obese drivers are less able to survive heavy impact is that car safety is evaluated against the model of an "average adult." This means that seatbelts and other safety devices do not protect an obese individual in an optimal manner.

However, it appears that the definition of the "average adult" in America is shifting as 1 in 3 adults across the nation are now considered obese. Some safety experts are advocating that auto manufactures take this morphing body norm into consideration when developing and testing new models. Certainly, losing weight should help alleviate this issue but in the immediate future, there are several drivers at an elevated risk.

Source: CBS News, "Obese drivers more likely to die in car accidents, study finds," Michelle Castillo, Jan. 22, 2013

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