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Women and Car Accident Safety

When new motor vehicles are tested for safety, do they take into account all types of persons? Most of us do not think about questions of sex or gender, or the distinctions between adult males and females when it comes to size and weight when we consider how safe a person might be in a car accident. However, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Virginia, “women are far more likely to suffer serious injuries in a car crash.”

The difference has nothing to do with differences in how a person’s body sustains impact. Rather, as an article in City Lab about the study underscores, “crash-test dummies are typically models of an average man.” Accordingly, car safety tests take into account male bodies (and ways of reducing injury to male bodies) in a way that they do not consider female bodies.

Disparities in Car Safety Standards: Women Are More Likely Than Men to Sustain Serious Injuries in a Car Crash

An older study out of the University of Virginia back in 2011 concluded that women sustain more serious and fatal injuries in motor vehicle collisions than men. In terms of serious and fatal injuries, women are “nearly 50 percent more likely to be seriously or fatally injured in a crash.”

While that data has been in existence for nearly a decade, researchers did not return to the question of women and car accident safety until recently. A new team of researchers at the University of Virginia reexamined the links between sex or gender and car accident injury risks to determine that “women are 73 percent more likely to be injured in a car accident.” That study explored data from more than 31,000 individuals who were involved in car crashes between the years 1998 and 2015. Although all motor vehicle passengers are now substantially safer than they used to be—car safety has improved for all vehicle occupants—safety features have improved more for males than females.

As the article clarifies, “females continue to be in more vulnerable positions when involved in frontal impact collisions—even when they wear a seatbelt.” The researchers came to that conclusion after analyzing tens of thousands of accidents and “controlling for the car’s model year, and the passenger or driver’s height, weight, BMI, and proximity to the steering wheel.” The safety features in most new cars do a better job of protecting adult male bodies than adult female bodies.

Crash-Test Dummies Modeled on Male Occupants

The reason for this discrepancy is, in large part, the design of crash-test dummies. Generally speaking, crash-test dummies are modeled on male occupants. As such, the dummies do not take into account the fact that female bodies tend to have wider and shallower pelvises or that female body tend to have more tissue or fat around the waist and thighs while men experience that concentration in the midsection.

While these differences might seem minor, they can make an enormous difference in determining the efficacy of a car’s safety features. For example, these seemingly slight differences can significantly impact the effectiveness of a seatbelt.

To make cars safer for everyone, researchers emphasize that crash-test dummies need to take into account more body types and to consider safety features that could protect adult males and females alike.

Contact a West Palm Beach Car Accident Lawyer

Were you injured in a motor vehicle collision? When a crash happens because another driver was negligent, it is important to learn more about filing a claim for compensation. An experienced West Palm Beach car accident attorney can help. Contact Lesser Lesser Landy & Smith PLLC to speak with an auto accident lawyer today.




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