When researchers from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety studied motor vehicle accident reports that took place in Florida and around the country between 1998 and 2015, they discovered that women suffered injuries far more often than men. They noticed that female accident victims suffered serious injuries twice as often and minor injuries three times as often as male accident victims. When the researchers took a closer look at the data, they concluded that women are injured more often in traffic accidents because they tend to drive smaller vehicles and are usually behind the wheel of the vehicle that is struck.
The vehicles women drive
Most of the motor vehicle accidents studied by the IIHS were caused by men, and many of those men were behind the wheels of large pickup trucks when they crashed. Almost three-quarters of the women involved in accidents were traveling in small vehicles, and only 5% of them were driving large pickup trucks. The researchers also noticed that women were usually in the vehicle struck rather than the striking vehicle. When the researchers looked at accidents involving similar-sized vehicles, the disparity in serious injuries suffered by men and women was much smaller.
While women suffered serious injuries about as often as men in compatible accidents, they suffered moderate or minor injuries far more often. This is something that road safety advocates have called attention to in the past, and it is often blamed on the way vehicles are designed and tested. Engineers rely on the results of crash tests when they develop automobile safety systems, and these tests are usually conducted using dummies based on the size and weight of an average man. However, cars may become safer for women in the near future because a team of Swedish engineers have developed an advanced female crash-test dummy.
Making the roads safer
The IIHS has been using basic female crash-test dummies since 2003 and will likely switch to the more advanced model in the near future, but few carmakers do the same. The new female crash-test dummy could make the roads safer for women, but that will only happen if carmakers actually use it or government regulators mandate its use in crash tests.