How being fat and old is the newest threat to auto safety

There's no easy way to say this, America: You're getting fatter and older every year. Over a quarter of the population is obese, and the rate of obesity increases 0.5 percent each year. The amount of folks aged 65 and up currently stands at 40 million, but that number will increase to nearly 90 million by 2050. What does any of this have to do with automobiles? A lot – if you're a safety engineer.

The systems that help keep us safe during a crash will need to be redesigned to cope with our ever-increasing mass and aging bodies. Seatbelts and airbags are being developed that can work with the larger, older occupants of future vehicles. Adaptive airbags and load-limited seatbelts will better conform to the person sitting in the seat.

As we travel down the road to our Wall-E style future, it's comforting to know that today's engineers are working to protect tomorrow's driving population. The solution to our weight problem is, of course, to battle the ever-expanding waistlines found throughout our nation. That, however, is easier said than done. Let's just hope that the four-wheeled products that result don't resemble sculptor Erwin Wurm's 'fat car' series, as shown above.

Now if you'll excuse us, a 20-piece Chicken McNugget meal is calling from the kitchen. Oof, that's an awfully far walk for our aging bones, though.

[Source: Ward's Auto | Image: Dorotheum]

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