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Dummies Pack on the Pounds in the Name of Safety: One Crash Test Dummy Maker Says Old Models No Longer Representative

Posted Gerard C. Kramer on Dec 28, 2014 in Car Accidents

It’s no secret that Americans, as well as people around the world, are getting bigger. Doctors and the media are regularly warning of the obesity epidemic in the United States, showing slow motion videos of headless Americans with growing waistlines.

While the shame campaign is not the most helpful method of conveying the message, Americans really are getting bigger. Airlines recently adjusted the weight and balance standard weights for adults and children, and the auto industry may soon be following suit in its own way.

Vehicle Safety Designed for the Svelte Dummies of Yesteryear

Crash test dummies have been deemed one of the greatest achievements in vehicle safety advancement. Cars today have undergone a battery of crash tests with these dummies inside, each carefully monitoring the forces caused by various collisions in each car.

The problem, however, is that the adult crash test dummies are modeled after the average human male size from many years ago, about 5’9” and 167 pounds. After numerous studies showing that overweight and obese drivers are more likely to be injured or killed in a crash, due to their positioning being more forward and the seat belt contact points changing, one crash test dummy maker decided something must be done.

Humanetics, a Michigan-based company that manufactures and designs crash test dummies, has developed a new dummy that is slightly taller and weighs in at 270 pounds. This dummy would allow auto makers to test vehicles for crash safety for larger occupants, an important consideration for a large portion of our country.

While use of the dummies will not be mandated, Humanetics felt it was important that options remain available to the industry that better represent the population. What is up next for Humanetics? Crash test dummies modeled after the elderly, as well as the petite women, both of whom experience increased risk of injury or death in car accidents.

What do you think about the latest crash test dummies? Are they smart, or a waste of time and money? Share your thoughts in the comment section below or via social media!