Bulky man barely injured as car rolls over him

Tuesday, June 13th, 2006

From Bulky man barely injured as car rolls over him:

A 440 pound German man discovered that being overweight can be good for your health — if you get run over by a car.

German police said the extra body mass prevented the 30-year-old man from suffering potentially fatal injuries when a Volkswagen Polo drove over him after he braked suddenly on his bicycle at a crossroads and fell off in front of the car.

‘It certainly helped him in this case,’ said Sven-Marco Claus, a spokesman for police in the western town of Gifhorn on Monday. ‘Someone smaller would probably not have been so lucky.’

The man dislocated his hip, which local doctors put back in place, but otherwise suffered only scratches and a bloody nose from the underside of the vehicle, police said.

My first thought — after noting that the original German article almost certainly referred to him as a 200-kilogram man — was that he might not have had so much trouble braking and staying on his bike if he were leaner and more agile. Lance Armstrong never would have been hit.

In fact, the same concept holds for vehicles, where it’s called active safety. I cited Malcolm Gladwell’s Big and Bad on that topic a couple years ago:

Most of us think that S.U.V.s are much safer than sports cars. If you asked the young parents of America whether they would rather strap their infant child in the back seat of the TrailBlazer or the passenger seat of the Boxster, they would choose the TrailBlazer. We feel that way because in the TrailBlazer our chances of surviving a collision with a hypothetical tractor-trailer in the other lane are greater than they are in the Porsche. What we forget, though, is that in the TrailBlazer you’re also much more likely to hit the tractor-trailer because you can’t get out of the way in time. In the parlance of the automobile world, the TrailBlazer is better at “passive safety.” The Boxster is better when it comes to “active safety,” which is every bit as important.

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