Crash Dummies Pack on Pounds to Reflect America's Growing Waistl - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Crash Dummies Pack on Pounds to Reflect America's Growing Waistlines

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SALISBURY, Md.- Studies show obese drivers have a 78 percent greater chance of dying in a car crash than those at a healthy weight. It is an alarming number, as is the number of pounds crash-test dummies are now gaining in an effort to lower that statistic.

Thanks to America's growing waistlines, the traditional, 167 pound crash test dummy is getting a makeover. A new model, created by the company Humanetics, is designed to represent a 270 pound person.

“The safety features that we've had in our cars for a long time really aren't appropriate for folks that are that size,” noted Regina Kundell, a nurse practitioner with Peninsula Regional Medical Center.

Take seatbelts, for example. To get the maximum protection, they should fit snugly across your lower stomach. But if you are carrying around too many extra pounds, that shifts you out of position, putting your safety at risk.

“If you're overweight, the seatbelt's going to hit you at different places, and probably not where it was intended to hit,” Kundell explained. “If you're abdomen's sticking out farther, it's going to be more difficult for you to be 12 inches away from the steering wheel, which is a safe distance for an airbag to deploy.”

Kundell says re-examining safety standards could save lives.

“If we have people dying that could be saved, just because we don't have the right safety equipment, I think we need to go ahead and move forward with that,” she said.

It was a controversial topic among people WBOC spoke with.

“You don't want to say, I'm not going to accommodate for this certain weight or this certain type of person, and I don't care about their safety as much as I do about a thin person who meets certain health standards,” said Ruth Kauffman.

“It seems extreme to me that we would have to incorporate a larger sized dummy,” remarked Jesse Tallyen. “How far do the safety standards have to go before we realize that the problem is not with the machinery?”

The CEO of Humanetics says the larger dummies will be put into trials by the end of this year, and should become available for use on a wider scale sometime in 2015.

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