The Slatest

Crash Test Dummies Are Bulking Up to Try to Keep America’s Overweight Drivers Safe

A Ford crash test dummy.

Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

America has a super-sized weight problem—one in three Americans are obese.  And while the country’s ever-expanding waistlines create many well-documented health dangers, there’s one hazard you might not expect: Obese drivers are far more likely to die in a car crash. To help isolate exactly why that is, America’s crash test dummies are about to get a potbelly.

“Studies show that obese drivers are 78 percent more likely to die in a car crash,” Chris O’Connor, the head of the only U.S. producer of the dummies, told ABC News. Part of the problem, O’Connor says, is safety features in cars—such as seat belts and air bags—were designed to protect thinner people and the crash test dummies designed to test whether those features actually worked are similarly based on an outdated, svelte American driver. “O’Conner said crash-test dummies are now typically modeled after a person who weighs about 167 pounds with a healthy body mass index,” according to ABC News. “His company is designing new dummies based on the measurements of a 270-pound person with a BMI of 35, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as other health groups, consider morbidly obese.”