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Why Women Are at Greater Risk of Injury in Car Accidents 

Every day, when we get behind the wheel, we carry the burden of what could happen on the road. We fear getting into a car crash, suffering an injury, or something happening to a loved one. As women, the fear may be even greater because our chances of sustaining an injury in a car crash are higher than men, even though we get into fewer motor vehicle crashes overall. 

According to a recent study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a female driver or front passenger who is wearing a seat belt is 17 percent more likely than a male to get killed when a car crash occurs. In addition, a study from the University of Virginia (UVA) found that female occupants are 73 percent more likely to get injured in a frontal crash than male occupants. 

While certain factors, such as the car we drive (women tend to drive smaller, lighter cars than men) and the types of crashes we are involved in (women are more likely to be driving the struck vehicle in side-impact and front-into-rear crashes than men), increase our risk of injury, there is much more to the story. 

Biases in Car Crash Tests

Today, female drivers account for over half of all licensed drivers in the United States, and yet, car safety features aren’t always designed with female drivers in mind. The dummies used in motor vehicle crash tests are built around the “average” male – and in fact, an average female car crash test doesn’t even exist. 

Female and male bodies react differently in crashes, but automotive safety policies and research mirror the average male body from the 1970s – in the form of a 171-pound, 5-foot-9-inch dummy in crash tests. In 2003, NHTSA finally added a female dummy in a car – but it was a scaled-down version of a male dummy that only represented the smallest fifth percentile of American women in the 1970s. It did not take into account the biological differences between male and female bodies. Plus, this female dummy either rode in the passenger seat or did not participate at all in frontal crash tests performed by NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. 

Changes in automotive safety rely heavily on regulation – meaning if crash safety tests don’t prioritize female occupants’ safety, neither will car manufacturers when they are designing new car safety features. So, while it can be beneficial to drive safer and newer cars with better safety features – remember that they still won’t be geared towards protecting female bodies.

How We Can Help 

Women spend just as much time driving on the road as men do, and therefore, should be represented in crash safety tests just as often. The average-sized female dummy should be made a part of car crash tests in multiple seating positions, including the driver’s seat. Until car industries prioritize the safety of female drivers, women will always face a greater risk of injury in car crashes than men and benefit from future car safety features at only a limited capacity. 

If you are a female and have been seriously injured in a car accident due to someone else’s recklessness, we can help connect you with a compassionate and experienced lawyer that can get you the compensation and justice you deserve. You should not have to deal with this on your own – and we are here to support you in any way we can. 

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