"There is a fundamental issue with inequality in terms of car safety development" - Women are 73% more likely to suffer fatal or serious injuries in car crashes

July 16, 2019, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

Chalk Board With Test Handwriting Text The design and safety testing of cars (and most other consumer goods) was long designed by male engineers and has historically focused on parameters reflecting males. For example tools are often sized for male hands, cupboard heights for male heights, and cars for male dimensions.

This has resulted in many safety features of cars being designed around the geometry of men, where they sit in the car relative to the steering wheel, and their heights and weights. While there is a slow attempt to account for women who are shorted and tend to site closer to the wheel, most life saving improvements to car design and safety have far exceeded their benefits to men than women.

A new study obtained by CBC News has shown that women are far more likely than men to be seriously injured or to die in a car crash than men are. The University of Virginia has released a study which confirms that while cars have become safer the odds of women being fatally injured in a collision are 73% higher than men. The study concludes that this is due to the fact that crash testing for cars is conducted almost exclusively with male sized dummies, and the resulting safety designs are based on those results.

Conclusions include that while the overall safety of cars has improved drastically since 2009 the improvements are much more beneficial to men than women. Experts claim this is due to a lack of available female specific safety data. Females are essentially excluded in all design and regulatory testing and data analysis.

Greater gains could be made in the testing if better test dummies were created than we have today. Newer dummies have anatomically correct body parts, organs and up to 150 test data points allowing researchers to collect a great deal of information. Female dummies do exist, but researchers admit that these dummies are essentially smaller versions of the male dummy and don’t reflect the anatomical, physiological and genetic differences between males and females according to the CBC News summary. These changes impact the way crash forces impact the body.

Women tend to have more fat distributed differently, difference muscular strength and pelvic and body alignment are all different. These changes significantly change the effectiveness of safety equipment such as seat belts and airbags. Side car pillars are considered an integral protective device in a side crash, yet most women sit well ahead of the pillar thus reducing the benefits they provide in a crash.

Many women find the use of seat belts uncomfortable due to breast tissue. The seatbelts can slide one way or the other. It appears that there has never been a study done to determine the impact of breast tissue on seatbelt placement and effectiveness.

Volvo, a world leader in car safety and innovation, has also found that women are at higher risk for injury than men are due to the design decisions based on male test centric design. There is ‘a fundamental issue with inequality in terms of car safety development’.


Posted under Automobile Accident Benefits, Car Accidents, Catastrophic Injury

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Deutschmann Law serves South-Western Ontario with offices in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Woodstock, Brantford, Stratford and Ayr. The law practice of Robert Deutschmann focuses almost exclusively in personal injury and disability insurance matters. For more information, please visit www.deutschmannlaw.com or call us toll-free at 1-866-414-4878.

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