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Why are crash test dummies gaining weight?

Crash test dummies are being remodeled to represent the most common drivers and passengers. Essentially, they are gaining weight, just like many ordinary citizens who are struggling with their weight. But when it comes to crash test dummies, what designers may learn in terms of keeping larger drivers (and passengers) safe is crucial.

According to a recent ABC News.com report, Humanetics, the only U.S. provider of crash test models, will begin providing figures that are patterned after a 270 pound person with a body mass index of 35. Before this, crash test dummies were patterned after people who were 167 pounds. 

It is reasonable to assume that fewer people resemble the 167 pound model traditionally used. Additionally, researchers learned that seatbelts, airbags and other safety features may not protect heavier drivers in the same way. Humanetics’ CEO explained that heavier people do not sit in the same way that slender drivers may while behind the wheel. By being out of position, heavier drivers may not be afforded the same type of protection.

Even more troubling, another study conducted by the University of Buffalo found that moderately obese people were 21 percent more likely to be injured. Also, morbidly obese drivers were 56 percent more likely to be killed.

As such, the heavier dummies will begin to be used in crash tests next year. It remains to be seen whether the updated dummies will lead to chances in car design. After all, it is reasonable to believe that the best (or safest) vehicles should be able to protect all riders and passengers. 

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