1. ITV Report

US crash test dummies fatten up to protect obese drivers

The dummies have been made bulkier to reflect modern American waistlines. Credit: Humanetics

Crash test dummies used in the US are becoming fatter to help protect obese Americans from the dangers of car accidents.

Manufacturer Humanetics has decided to make the dummies a lot heavier as studies have shown that obese people are significantly more likely to die in car accidents than their thinner contemporaries.

The new machines are modelled on a person weighing over 19 stone, whereas previously it was just under 12 stone.

A 2010 study at the University of Buffalo analysed 150,000 car crashed in the US and found that morbidly obese drivers were 56% more likely to die.

A crash test at the Ford Motor Development Centre in Michigan. Credit: Reuters

Humanetics chief executive Chris O'Connor, said the reason was the way people put on weight around their midriff.

He told CNN: "The reason is the way we get fat. We get fat in our middle range. And we get out of position in a typical seat."

The dummies are expensive and extremely sophisticated. According to O'Connor, they can now collect data from over 130 different channels of information.

The company is also working on making age-specific dummies, as research reveals that older drivers are also more at risk during crashes.