photo: Pete Cig/Creative Commons
I'll assume that you know America's collective growing waistline in a major health problem, with myriad causes from diet to exercise to economic. Well, the situation has become bad enough that the Federal Transit Administration has been forced to respond--proposing raising the assumed average passenger weight and size for mass transit systems, used in safety testing among other things. Currently the FTA assumes that a passenger weighs 150 pounds. That would be raised to 175 pounds, with each person needing an additional quarter of a square foot. This reflects the fact that the average weight in the US for men is now 194.7 pounds and 164.7 pounds for women.
Smart Planet points out that the proposed FTA average weights are still lower than those used by the FAA and the Coast Guard. On planes the assumed weight is 190 pounds in summer and 195 in winter (you're carrying more clothing with you in winter...); on boats its 185 pounds.
Potential Vehicle Upgrades Not Cheap...
Bloomberg reports that bus manufacturers Daimler and Volvo would have the option of upgrading vehicles to allow for the extra weight, while still maintaining passenger loads, but would not be mandated to do so. Such upgrades to suspension, braking systems, etc. could cost up to $25,000 each.
Already some ambulance services have been forced to upgrade their vehicles to carry the added weight of patients--$12,000 per vehicle in Boston and $7000 each in Fort Worth, Texas.