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Developers Create Obese Crash Dummies

Update Date: Nov 01, 2014 01:21 PM EDT

American crash dummies will be made over to increase safety for heavier drivers and passengers. According to the lead manufacturer of crash dummies, Humanetics, which is based in Plymouth, MI, the latest model will be an obese dummy.

"Obese occupants are up to 78 percent more likely to die in a car crash than an average weight driver," the chief executive of the company, Christopher O'Connor explained according to CBS News.

In a 2013 study that was published in the Emergency Medicine Journal, researchers found that obesity can increase risk of deaths tied to car crashed by as mush as 80 percent. A 2010 study conducted by the University of Buffalo and Erie County Medical Center found that moderately obese drivers had a 21 percent greater risk of death. This risked increased to 56 percent for morbidly obese drivers. They added that obese women had doubled the risk of death from car crashes than obese men.

"We're still testing with a dummy that was created in the '80s...It's not representative of the population, and obviously it's a much different load on the system." O'Connor said, according to USA Today. "The dummy is a little taller because the population is now taller-but to be frank, it's all in the butt, thighs and midsection, because that's where the weight gain has occurred."

In order to make driving safer for obese people, the O'Connor announced that the new dummies would weigh 271 pounds with a body mass index (BMI) of 35. The original dummies currently weigh 167 pounds. The company will also study ways to improve safety for elderly passengers.

"A 50-year-old female has a 19 percent risk of serious injury in a frontal crash and an 80-year-old female has a 40 percent risk," O'Connor said. "Humanetics is developing an elderly [crash-test dummy] and plans to collaborate with universities and interested industry groups to expedite the availability of this product for testing."

He concluded, "Children, obese and elderly test devices are necessary to represent the world's diverse population more realistically."

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