Women More Likely to be Injured in Car Accidents

March 13, 2020

The University of Virginia’s Center for Applied Biomechanics recently published a study that found women wearing seat-belts in the front seat were 73 percent more likely to be injured in car accidents compared to men. Some say more research in this area is necessary to find a solution. Jason Forman, principal scientist with the Center for Applied Biomechanics says, “Until we understand the fundamental biomechanical factors that contribute to increased risk for females, we’ll be limited in our ability to close the risk gap.” He goes on to say, “This will take substantial effort, and in my view the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does not have the resources needed to address this issue.” The report also suggested the automotive design is influenced by safety test results. Meaning, if tests don’t provide adequate female testing, then car makers won’t make changes to better protect them.

Crash Test Dummies

Some believe that women are more likely to be injured in car accidents because of faulty testing. According to research, Crash Test Dummies represent a midsize and large male and a small female (in the fifth percentile). Dr. Forman says, “What we don’t have is a good model, a physical model, or human body computer model for a midsize female.”

Dr. Emily Thomas is an automotive safety engineer for Consumer Reports and weighs in on the subject. She encourages regulators to develop safety standards requiring female dummies to be in the driver’s seat during crash testing. And, require an average female dummy built to use in safety designs.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

But, critics say the fix is not that simple. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is in the process of developing a new test program to fix the gap between men and women. They say real world data collection, plus the development of a new dummy, can take years. And, the focus should be more on vehicle protection from a structural stance.

Joseph Young, a spokesman for the institute, says they have seen “incredible improvements” in how well vehicles protect people. “One of the main reasons is that modern vehicles do a good job of resisting structural intrusion into the occupant space, which benefits all occupants regardless of size or gender,” he said. Young’s focus is not on the gender gap. He says, “if the structure holds up, then all those inside are better protected.”

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