New crash test reveals women are at a greater risk to die in a car crash than men

Women wearing seatbelts in the front seat were 73% more likely than males to have serious injuries in a frontal collision.

Cover Image Source: AIR SAFETY BAG DEMO IN CAR WITH DUMMIES (Getty mages/ Romilly Lockyer)

Women are far more likely than men to get seriously injured when involved in an accident. Mainly due to the kinds of cars they drive and the conditions of their collision rather than physical disparities. For instance, women are generally behind the wheel of a lighter, smaller car involved in front-to-rear and side-impact collisions. Considerable technological advances have made new cars safer, but crash experts discovered a huge safety gap for women. According to KOAA, research was done in 2019 by the University of Virginia, where women wearing seatbelts in the front seat were 73% more likely than males to have severe injuries in a frontal collision. The gap can potentially put our mothers, daughters, and sisters at risk.


Passenger woman fastening seat belt in the car, safety concept. (Getty Images /	Witthaya Prasongsin)
Passenger woman fastening seatbelt in the car, safety concept. (Getty Images / Witthaya Prasongsin)

In the 1970s, a groundbreaking crash test was designed to understand how these crashes affect individuals at the time of impact. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration continued to gather data and raise safety standards over time, which led to the development of more complex crash testing. However, researchers at the University of Virginia claim they have identified an area of danger that needs to be addressed. “Vehicles have improved dramatically and car companies and the federal government have made great improvements in the safety of vehicles in general and they should be commended for that, but simply because we made improvements doesn't mean our job is done,” said Dr. Jason Forman who coordinated the crash research.






Dr. Forman and his team made a concerning observation. According to Dr. Forman, “Women were at greater risk of injury compared to men." "That stood out to us. Other than the aforementioned statistic, women are also at a 79.7% higher risk than men to sustain leg injuries. It comes after federal research that revealed women who buckled up while driving a vehicle or in the passenger seat had a 17% higher risk of dying. The research still continues to pursue why there is such a gap between men and women, with many believing there to be an unequal representation of the crash test dummies. “Right now, there are Crash Test Dummies that represent a midsize male and a large male and a very small female 5th percentile weighing around a little over a hundred pounds, just under about 5 feet tall," said Dr. Forman. "What we don't have is a good model, a physical model, or a human body computer model for a midsize female."




Safety engineer for Consumer Reports, Dr. Emily Thomas, added, "We know that women are not built the same way as men. We know that there are really important physiological and material differences in the way that our bodies are designed versus men's bodies and how they're going to respond differently in a crash that needs to be taken into account.” Also, Dr. Thomas is advocating for major changes in crash testing. “Really what we need is to be able to urge the regulators to put out a safety standard that's going to require female dummies to be in the driver's seat during the crash testing and require that there is an average female dummy that's built that we can use in our safety designs.”


Images/ Romilly Lockyer

With so many women driving nowadays, Dr. Thomas says it is high time for some changes. Congressmen have requested the same in a letter to the federal crash investigators, but nothing has changed yet. The most helpful piece of advice, according to experts, is to always wear a seatbelt. The back seat is another area where crash testers plan to increase safety in the upcoming years. People of all ages, genders and socioeconomic backgrounds are traveling in the rear seats in greater numbers than ever before as a result of the popularity of ridesharing services.

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