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Crash Test Dummies Getting Bigger In America

The Michigan company Humanetics, which makes the dummies, is working on models that are about 270 pounds (120kg), rather than the current 167 pounds (75kg).

Humanetics CEO Chris O'Connor said that obese drivers or passengers are 78% more likely to die in a car crash than an average-sized occupant.

The new dummies will address that problem and look at how airbags or seat belts, for example, fare with a heavier individual.

Mr O'Connor said the current safety standards - used across much of the world, including in Europe and Asia - are based on data from 1980.

He hopes the obese dummies will lead to new standards that more closely match the current population.

"We don't want obese drivers to be any more at risk than other drivers," he told Sky News.

He said Humanetics' goal is to produce data that will lead to the development of "safer vehicles for all sizes of the population".

The obese dummies are expected to be ready by year-end.

About 35% of the adult US population, or 78.6 million, are obese, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

Obesity is defined using weight and height to calculate a number called the body mass index, or BMI. An adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.

© Sky News, 2014