In a number of our posts, we have highlighted the latest safety upgrades that automakers are touting in the newest vehicles to enter the marketplace. We have also touched upon the structural updates automakers have incorporated in response to IIHS crash test results. However, we likely did not mention how crash test dummies have changed as well.

According to a recent ABC News.com report, crash test dummies have gained weight. No, they are not going to be put on diets or monitored for their caloric intake, but it was time to include test subjects that better resembled today’s car occupants. The CEO of the only U.S. provider of crash test dummies, Humanetics, explained that they were traditionally modeled after a person who weighed 167 pounds and had a healthy body mass index. However, most normal drivers do not resemble this size and weight. 

With that, Humanetics is designing new crash test dummies patterned after a 270 pound person with a body mass index of 35. This change is intended to help manufacturers understand how heavier people may react in crashes, especially given that safety belts may not fit them properly, and they may sit out of position given how seats are configured.

Also, several studies have shown that larger individuals are at a greater risk of harm in car accidents. According to a University of Buffalo and Erie County Medical Center study, moderately obese drivers and a 21 percent increased risk of death. Drivers who were morbidly obese were more than 50 percent more likely to be killed in a crash. 

With that, we hope that the changes result in safer vehicles.