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Will Your Spare Tire Save Your Life?

A new paper (gated version here) by Michael Sivak, Brandon Schoettle, and Jonathan Rupp takes a look at what keeps people alive in fatal traffic accidents. The authors find that women drivers involved in fatal crashes are more likely to die than men, and, not surprisingly, unbelted drivers are 2.1 times more likely to die than belted drivers. The effect of body mass index (BMI) is more complicated. For men wearing seatbelts, a higher BMI seems to offer some protection: “For example, the probability of being killed, if involved in a fatal crash, is 22 percent lower for belted male drivers with BMI between 35 and 50 as opposed to those with BMI between 15 and 18.4.” The opposite is true for unbelted males. For belted females, having a normal BMI gives you the best shot at survival.[%comments]