File photo: AFP

Obese drivers are more likely to die in car crashes than other motorists, with women most at risk, scientists have warned.

Heavier people are up to 80 percent more likely to be killed than those of a healthy weight. But for overweight women, the risk doubles, a US study found.

Instead of obese motorists being cushioned in a crash, their extra soft tissue stops the seat belt tightening immediately on the pelvis. This means they are propelled further forward than lighter drivers.

The report in the Emergency Medicine Journal found that the heavier the driver, the bigger the risk of death compared with someone of normal weight.

It looked at 6806 motorists in 3403 collisions. Nearly a fifth were obese, meaning they had a body mass index of 30 or above.

The findings show the heaviest drivers, with a BMI of 40 or more, were 80 per cent more likely to die in an accident than those of a healthy weight.

Those with a BMI of 35-40 were 51 per cent more likely while the excess risk was 21 per cent for those with a BMI of 30 up to 35. Female drivers with a BMI of 35 and over ran roughly double the risk of death compared with women of normal weight. -Daily Mail