It looks like Detroit and federal safety officials are finally taken women’s vulnerability in car accidents into account in crash testing, according to a report by ABC News.
It used to be that vehicle crash tests only used dummies that were built like men — because car makers and designers were all men.
But now, according to ABC, the auto industry has finally tumbled to the reality that females actually drive cars, as well. So now dummies modeled after women are being used in crash tests, so that vehicles can be designed with female-safety needs specifically addressed.
General Motors uses 200 dummies (costing as much as $200,000 each) for its crash tests, with 35 of them considered female, ABC News reported.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began using female dummies several years ago, because as it turns out research shows that women are much more liable to be injured in a car accident.
“Studies show that women, having smaller bones and lower bone density, are at greater risk than men of suffering injury or death in crashes,” ABC reported. “Their less muscular necks make them more vulnerable to whiplash. In general, smaller people cannot tolerate crash forces as well as can full-sized men.”
The NHTSA offers vehicle safety ratings regarding women and men. The group’s website has a consumer shopping feature named Safercar.gov, which offers limited guidance on how well different vehicles safeguard women and men in crashes.
Apparently, the auto industry is taking the different safety needs of women to heart, by designing cars that are safer for women, ABC News reported.
A spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) told ABC News that women are more likely to be hurt not only because they are typically smaller than men, but also because of the way they sit in cars. For example, because they are often shorter than men, women sit closer to the steering wheel, moving their seats forward, ABC News said.
That means if a women driver’s car is hit on the side, by a larger vehicle such as a truck, the woman’s head is often in the middle of the side window, a target for any object crashing through the glass. In contrast, a man is more likely to be sitting back more, which means he is often protected by the post between the car’s front and back doors, ABC News reported.
In 2003, the IIHS employed a female dummy for its side-impact tests. As a result of that research, changes were made to side air bags, with them moved slightly so they would do a better job of protecting female passengers, according to ABC News.
Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
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