TN Study: Obese less likely to use seat belts because they don't fit

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- A new Vanderbilt study found that seat belt use declines as body size increases.

But even large drivers who want to use a seat belt may be thwarted because not all carmakers offer bigger belts or extenders.

Vanderbilt University psychologist David Schlundt and his colleagues at Meharry Medical College in Nashville reviewed nearly 250,000 responses about seat belt use from a national telephone health survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Only about 70 percent of extremely obese individuals reported always using a seat belt, while nearly 83 percent of normal-weight people always used their belts, the study found.

Federal standards that specify the length of auto seat belts date back four decades and only require that seat belts accommodate a 215-pound man.

Some manufacturers offer bigger belts or extenders anyway, but other auto companies have concerns about effectiveness and liability.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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