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Are Women More Likely to Die in Crashes Due to Poor Car Design?

Even though many studies show that more car accidents are caused by men, women are more likely to die in a car accident. One of the reasons for this disparity in car accident fatalities between the sexes is improper vehicle design by auto manufacturers.

Female Car Accident Statistics

Experts and auto safety advocates argue that vehicle manufacturers have no incentive to design vehicles with women in mind; designs are more geared toward men. This is a complicated subject, but there is seemingly a disparity in fatalities among genders.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) compiles yearly statistics on car and truck accidents, making note of many details. In 2019, which is the latest year data is available, out of 36,096 automobile crash-related fatalities in the United States, 10,420 of them were female. In that same year, well over 1 million females were injured in car or truck crashes, including pedestrian accidents. In 2018, the number of car accident fatalities among women was 10,766, and in 2017, that number was 10,806.

Women are 72 percent more likely to be injured and 17 percent more likely to die in a car crash than men. The vehicle manufacturers and the government agencies tasked with vehicle safety have known about this disparity but have not changed safety designs and protocols.

NHTSA Safety Tests

In order to receive a coveted “5-star safety rating” from the NHTSA, a vehicle has to pass four tests. These tests include:

  • Frontal crash test scenario
  • Side barrier crash test scenario
  • Side pole crash test scenario
  • Rollover resistance test scenario

The NHTSA test vehicles in these four scenarios because they are the main types of accidents. On every test but the side pole crash test scenario, the test is done with a crash dummy that is designed to reflect the average size male body. Only the side pole crash factors in a small adult woman.

The crash test dummies for both male and female lack any type of physiological distinctions between males and females. The only difference between the male and the female dummies is the size and weight. They do not use female crash test dummies that reflect actual female physiological conditions, such as varying bone densities, muscle structures, and abdominal and chest differences.

The NHTSA also tests for the possibility of injuries. Whiplash can be caused by the head and neck whipping back and forth after the vehicle is struck from behind or in front. Whiplash can cause very serious muscle, tendon, and spinal cord injuries in the neck and upper thoracic spine. The NHTSA test for whiplash protection is designed with the man’s body in mind, despite the fact that the average woman has far less muscle mass and strength in her neck. Due to this discrepancy, safety devices, such as seat belts and airbags, can potentially harm women.

Women Tend to Drive Smaller Vehicles

Another reason to have properly calibrated safety devices in cars is that, on average, women tend to drive smaller vehicles. When larger, heavy vehicles get into collisions with smaller, lighter cars, then drivers and passengers in the smaller cars will have more significant injuries. If more women drive smaller cars, then they have a higher chance of being injured, especially when the seat belt and airbag are designed and tested with the average male physical characteristics in mind.

The tendency for women to drive smaller vehicles on average is getting even more dangerous due to more sales of larger vehicles. Over the last 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in the size of some vehicles on the road. SUVs have become much bigger. Also, passenger trucks are the largest they have ever been in weight, length, and height. With more larger vehicles on the road, there may be more serious injuries, especially in people who tend to drive smaller vehicles.

What can be Done?

One way to reverse the disparity between the tests is to update the New Car Assessment Program. Congress is currently working on passing legislation that will update the testing requirements. This would include using more realistic female crash test dummies that reflect the true aspects of the average woman’s body.

If you are seriously injured in a car accident due to the negligent, careless, and dangerous action of another motorist, then you should speak with a lawyer about your options. You may be entitled to reimbursement of your medical bills and lost wages. You deserve justice, and a lawyer can protect your rights.

Delaware Auto Accident Lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Help Clients Injured by Negligent and Reckless Drivers

Although auto manufacturers design vehicles to keep drivers safe, there are discrepancies in the tests that can lead to serious injuries. Our Delaware auto accident attorneys at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. can help you if you were injured in a serious collision. Call us today at 302-656-5445 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. We are conveniently located in Wilmington and Millsboro, Delaware, and we proudly serve clients throughout Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County.