Male-Focused Crash Testing Bias Increases the Risk of Injury for Female Vehicle Occupants

January 17, 2020 | Uncategorized | By Personal Injury Legal Directory | 0 Comments

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the journal Traffic Injury Prevention, female drivers and female passengers sitting in the right-front seat of a car are 17% more likely to be killed in a car crash than a male occupant of the same age.  Further, any seatbelt-wearing female vehicle occupant has 73% greater odds of being seriously injured in a frontal car crash than the odds of a seatbelt-wearing male occupant being injured in the same kind and severity of crash, as a car accident lawyer in Phoenix, AZ knows only too well.

For decades, researchers and safety regulators have known that women are significantly more likely to be killed or injured in a car crash.  Why are females at a greater risk of being injured in a vehicle accident than males? Researchers have known that the body of a male reacts differently in a crash than the body of a female.  Most dummies used in vehicle crash tests to determine a vehicle’s safety rating represent the body type of a male.  

An automotive safety engineer at Consumer Reports states that “Unless the federal motor vehicle safety standards require dynamic crash testing with average-sized female crash dummies in multiple seating positions, driver side included, the dummy industry and automakers won’t make that leap themselves.”  Further, Consumer Reports states that vehicle restraint systems, like seat belts and airbags, are intended to limit motion and that transfer of energy, to do that effectively across a range of body types, carmakers and crash testers need to consider not just the size of different occupants but also the material properties of their bodies.  This would mean creating dummies to represent a multitude of body types between males and females.

“Females are not just smaller versions of males,” Kristy Arbogast, Ph.D., notes. “They’re put together differently. Their material properties – their structure – is different.” The average female today is 5.4 inches shorter and 27 pounds lighter than the average male according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  This size difference may cause females to sit closer to the steering wheel or wear their seatbelts in a different manner than their male counterparts. A female’s pelvis is structurally different than a male’s, meaning that the way a female sits in a car will be different than how a male sits in a car. 

Females are three times more likely to suffer whiplash injuries than males, as a male’s neck is stronger and better able to withstand forces that bend it.  However, real-world crash data shows that the seats made specifically to reduce whiplash injuries are less likely to help female occupants.

Thanks to the Law Office of Paul Englander, PLC for their insight into personal injury claims and car accidents.