Why Are Women More Likely To Die In Car Accidents?

Mon 28th Oct 2019

A surprising university study has revealed that women are far more likely to be seriously injured in a head-on crash than men, even if they are wearing a seat-belt.

Research from the University of Virginia has found that women are 73 per cent more likely to be seriously injured and 17 per cent more likely to be killed than a man of the same age. The extensive study looked at more than 22,000 front-end smashes in the United States from 1998 and 2015.

Now road safety campaigners are calling on the motor industry to redesign the standard crash test dummies to better replicate the body shape of a woman, rather than the standard size of five feet nine inches - the average UK woman is five feet four inches.

While EU regulations state that crash tests must include a fifth-percentile female dummy, these are only tested in the passenger seat, meaning that there is very little data on the effects of a crash on female drivers.

Emily Thomas, automotive safety engineer at Consumer Reports Auto Test Centre, said: "The reality of progress in automotive safety is that it heavily relies on regulation.

"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.

"Vehicle restraint systems, like seat belts and airbags, are intended to limit motion and that transfer of energy.

"But 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."

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, said: "Crash test dummies have indeed historically been based on a standard male driver.

"This means that not only is the impact on the female body been under-researched but older and younger drivers as well.

"This is changing with new dummies coming on stream that replicate fragile elderly drivers, females, the obese and children.

"The lack of a wider range of dummies does have important implications, for example older drivers can be injured by the force of an airbag going off which was designed for a fit younger person.

"Better dummies should lead to more intelligent airbags and seatbelts that sense the size and risk for everyone in a car."