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First car crash dummy modeled on female body is finally here to change the road safety scenario

Studies claim that women are 73% more likely to be injured in a car crash than men and Swedish engineer Astrid Linder wanted to do something about it.

First car crash dummy modeled on female body is finally here to change the road safety scenario
Cover Image Source: YouTube | BBC News

It took car manufacturers six whole decades to use female crash test dummies while checking the safety features of the cars despite the fact that women are more likely to get injured in car accidents. Studies claim that women are 73% more likely to be injured in a car crash than men, according to Verity Now, a platform dedicated to educating people about vehicle safety. Data also points towards claims that women are 17% to 18.5% more likely to die in a vehicle crash than men. That means over 1,300 preventable deaths per year. But the latest development in the field promises to change the road safety scenario. 


For years, car makers used test dummies that didn't reflect the average female body. Thanks to Swedish engineer Astrid Linder, the crash test dummy modeled after the average female body has now been introduced. She is named SET 50F and she's the world's first female crash test dummy. Speaking to NPR in 2022, Linder explained the difference between a male and female crash test dummy. "First of all, the height and weight. And also, this model is developed specifically for low-severity rear impact. So, we have a very strong focus on how the torso looks like. And there we have some geometrical differences between males and females, but we also have differences in joint stiffnesses. And females have fewer muscles and with a lower total strength, which corresponds to a lower stiffness between the joints," she elaborates.


Linder went on to explain that females have a higher risk of whiplash injuries from low-severity crashes than men. "But we also know from higher-severity crashes that females have a higher risk of severe injuries as drivers in frontal impacts," she added. Based on running some tests she learned that "you could get quite different performances of the different seats depending on if it was the male or the female that were in these seats. Some seats are very robust and others were less robust."

Elaborating further she explained that "when you look at loading to the neck, you would look at how the head moves relative to the torso dynamically. So, it's a rear impact where you aim to have the head and the torso as much in line with each other as possible. And that is affected by how the body interacts with the seatback." The dummy has been undergoing several developments in Sweden since late 2022 and it consists of rubber, metal and plastic. It is also fitted with 24 sensors and it measures 5 feet 3 inches, as well as, weighs 62 kilogrammes. To make it easier for you, this model is 15 cm and 15 kg less than a male crash test dummy.  


As reported by AFP, Linder said: "For non-fatal injuries which can lead to disabilities, statistics show that the factor that always stands out is the difference between men and women. The resulting suffering can last a lifetime. It is essential to establish how everyone can be protected."  


Earlier this year, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg asked Congress for $20 million in his department’s proposed fiscal year 2024 budget to fight gender inequity. According to New York Post, US Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) praised him for “including the critical funding that would accelerate the development” of the dummies. “This will start to fight the gender inequity among vehicle safety and crash victims,” she said.


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