Why are female drivers still at a higher risk of injury?

Sakkas Cahn & Weiss

Since the early 1980s, researchers have found that women have a higher chance of getting injured in a car accident. Yet not much seems to have changed since then.

A recent 2019 study revealed that women are 73% more likely to get injured in a car accident than men, even when wearing their seat belts. What accounts for this consistency in female injuries?

Crash tests are outdated and male-focused

Cars go through extensive crash testing to ensure that they provide as much safety as possible in the event of an accident. But a problem in these tests may reveal why women are more likely to get injured behind the wheel.

Although male and female bodies have proven to react differently in crashes, many safety tests still use a dummy style that was standardized in the 1970s. The physical dimensions accommodate that of a male body rather than a female. When these safety tests pass, they really only pass for a specific body type.

Female dummies are ineffective

Complaints about the lack of female test dummies had reached researchers’ ears for years, and only in 2003 was the first female-sized dummy used in a crash test. However, like the standard male-sized dummy, the female one only represented a small portion of actual female bodies in the nation.

Furthermore, tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that in most real-life crashes, a female of this size wouldn’t even be in the driver seat at all. So, any test results using a standard female dummy likely aren’t accurate reflections of real-life accidents.

What needs to change?

Researchers point out that men and women have inherently different biological variations that crash tests need to take into account. For example, female bones have a different makeup than male bones, which makes women more likely to suffer serious fractures after a car accident.

Crash test dummies should reflect these differences. Without accurate dummy sizes, car makers may not make the necessary changes to car designs that could make them safer for more body types.

Unfortunately, car accidents can be unavoidable and result in serious injury for everyone involved, regardless of safety measures. We can hope that crash testing techniques continue to develop to keep drivers safer. In the meantime, make sure you know how to protect yourself and your loved ones in the event of a car crash.

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