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Overweight NY Drivers Encouraged to Use Seatbelt Extenders to Safely Buckle Up

Published September 20, 2012 by Scott Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney

In New York, it is a primary offense if the driver or front seat passenger is not wearing a seat belt. New York law enforcement agencies frequently partner with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to enforce the state’s seatbelt law. However, a recent report suggests there is one demographic that may not be wearing their seat belts – obese drivers.

According to a study from the University of Buffalo, researchers found that extremely obese people are 67 percent less likely to wear a seatbelt. (Drivers were considered overweight or obese if they had a body mass index of 25 or more.)  In addition, they are 56 percent more likely to die in a car crash than normal-weight occupants of vehicles.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that wearing a seat belt is the most effective way to prevent death and serious injury in a crash. The CDC also reports that seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45 percent, and cut the risk of serious injury by 50 percent.

According to the CDC’s latest report on obesity rates in the United States, more than one-third of U.S. adults, or 36 percent, are obese. In New York, 24.5 percent of the residents are obese. While obesity-related health conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, injury or death from car accidents may soon be added to the list if larger Americans continue to fail to buckle up.

“How can we make it more likely for people, including the overweight or obese, to wear seatbelts?” asked Dietrich Jehle, MD, professor of emergency medicine at the University of Buffalo and lead researcher in the study. “We need to do something, since one-third of the U.S. population is overweight (not obese) and one-third is considered obese.”

If you are overweight and you cannot safely clasp your seatbelt, take the time to visit a local dealership to find a seatbelt extender to help keep you safe. offers information for finding the appropriate seatbelt extender by vehicle type. Seatbelt extenders are available from the parts departments of car dealerships. Extenders are available for most Ford, GM, Chrysler, and Toyota, but not Honda, vehicles.

Our Binghamton car accident attorney urge all occupants of vehicles to wear their seat belts at all times. We also ask the drivers to make sure their passengers are buckled up before driving.

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Scott C. Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney, is a Binghamton accident and injury law firm that handles all types of personal injury and motor vehicle accident cases, including cases involving drunk-driving accidents, wrongful death, cancer misdiagnosis, dog bites, hunting accidents, birth injuries, brain injuries, construction accidents, fall-down injuries and insurance settlements. The firm regularly employs accident reconstruction experts, investigators, photographers and economists to assist in evaluating and preparing personal injury cases.

For more information, call (800) TALK-LAW or use the firm’s online contact form.

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