Michigan Obesity Rate Could Result in More Car Accident Injuries and Deaths

September 11, 2012 |
Michigan Obesity Rate Could Result in More Car Accident Injuries and Deaths

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its latest report on obesity rates in the United States.  According to the study, more than one-third of U.S. adults, or 36 percent, are obese. While obesity-related health conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, injury or death from car accidents may soon be added to the list.

In a separate study from the University of Buffalo, researchers found that extremely obese people are 67 percent less likely to wear a seatbelt, and they are 56 percent more likely to die in a car crash than normal-weight occupants of vehicles.  (Drivers were considered overweight or obese if they had a body mass index of 25 or more.)

Unfortunately, according to the CDC study, Michigan is the fifth most obese state, with 31 percent of adults reported as being obese.  If Michigan’s overweight drivers are not buckling up, far too many people are putting themselves at risk of a car accident injury or fatality.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports in Michigan in 2010, 949 people died in car accidents and 32,885 were seriously injured. Of those who died, 600 were traveling in passenger vehicles, and just half of the deceased were wearing proper safety restraints.

Michigan has a primary seat belt law, which means law enforcement can stop and ticket motorists solely for not being buckled up. The law requires drivers and front-seat passengers to be buckled up at all times. Passengers ages 8-15 must be properly belted in all seating positions in the vehicle.  Although Michigan has one of the highest seat belt use rates in the nation - with 95 percent of drivers and front seat passengers buckling up in 2011, according to the Office of Highway Safety Planning - any life lost to lack of seatbelt usage is too many.

"How can we make it more likely for people, including the overweight or obese, to wear seatbelts?" asked Dietrich Jehle, MD, professor of emergency medicine at the University of Buffalo and lead researcher in the study. "We need to do something, since one-third of the U.S. population is overweight (not obese) and one-third is considered obese.”

Seatbelt Extenders for Obese Drivers, Passengers 

One woman in Summerville, S.C., decided to lose weight after she was ticketed for not wearing her seatbelt.  The woman topped out at 408 pounds, and her seatbelt no longer fit around her.  The ticket was her wakeup call, and in the year since receiving the ticket she lost nearly 200 pounds.  She hopes to inspire others to lose weight in order to stay safer when traveling and to improve their overall health.

For overweight drivers and passengers who cannot safely clasp a seatbelt, offers information for finding an appropriate seatbelt extender. The website reports that most parts departments of car dealerships carry extenders.  Extenders are available for most Ford, GM, Chrysler and Toyota, but not Honda vehicles.

The NHTSA reports that 12,500 lives are saved each year due to safety belt usage.  In addition, the CDC found that seatbelts reduce the risk of death by 45 percent and cut the risk of serious injury by 50 percent.  Michigan’s seatbelt law, when followed and enforced, can help save lives.  Please buckle up when traveling in a vehicle.

A Michigan Car Accident Attorney Can Help 

If you have been injured in a Michigan car accident caused by another driver, you have a legal right to seek compensation. But you have limited time to file a lawsuit, so it’s important to contact a Michigan car accident lawyer without delay. We will handle the necessary paperwork to make sure you don’t miss important deadlines. If you have been injured in a car accident, we can help you obtain a fair settlement.

We respond promptly to telephone calls and report regularly on developments in your case. Call The Michigan Injury Lawyers at 866-577-7215, or contact us online. If there is no recovery in your case, there is no fee for our services.