Friday, January 23, 2015

Larger People Equal Larger Crash Dummies

Crash dummies have long been used as a substitute for people in simulated accidents. Because their main purpose is to determine what would happen to a person in the same situation, these dummies must move like real people and be constructed like real people, and that includes their weight and overall size. So, it only makes sense that, with the nation getting heavier and heavier, the average crash dummy has been packing on the pounds too.

The first obese crash dummy was recently developed by a Michigan company known as Humanetics. The company’s dummy, which hasn’t been released for general use to the testing agencies yet, weighs almost 300 pounds, over a hundred pounds more than the standard dummies of the past.

While it’s sad to have to create such a large dummy to simulate people, there’s a need for it. A
whopping 34.9% of the American population is now classified as obese, and there’s a real need to determine if and how heavier people are affected differently in vehicular accidents. Most researchers, including those at Humanetics, believe that they will find differences, such as how the weight impacts the driver’s position in the car and how safety devices, like seat belts and air bags, and their performance are affected by heavier weights.

It’s not just the researchers at Humanetics who are interested in how weight and car accidents/car safety relate. Recently, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley compared accident fatality statistics for both obese and non-obese accident victims and found that obese drivers had a 78% higher chance of dying in a car accident than their non-obese counterparts.

Despite the growing concern over how obesity affects safety in the car, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does not intend, at this time, to use the dummy in its tests, which set the standards for major safety ratings. The organization says it is more concerned with testing the overall strength of the vehicles themselves, since stronger, sturdier vehicles will reduce accident risks for people of all sizes. Some car manufacturers have expressed a lack of interest in the heavier dummy as well, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does say that it plans to educate itself more on the heavier dummy and perhaps try it out sometime in the future. The dummy goes on sale soon, and only time will really tell if these organizations eventually step up to the plate and give it a try or not.

No comments:

Post a Comment