Women are 73% more likely to die or get seriously injured in car crashes. Scientists say it might be because the female crash-test dummies designed to represent American women weigh just 110 pounds.
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
- The female test dummies that car manufacturers use to measure automotive safety weighs around 110 pounds.
- That might explain why, according to a new study from the University of Virginia, women are 73% more likely to die or get seriously injured in a car accident.
- Female test dummies were not widely used until 2003.
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American car companies believe one type of female test dummy suffices to ensure women don't die in car crashes. And she's five feet tall and weighs 110 pounds.
That's incredibly far from the build of an average American woman. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, she weighs 170.5 pounds and stands nearly four inches taller than the test dummy.
Female car-crash victims are 73% more likely to die or suffer a serious injury in a car crash, according to a new paper from the University of Virginia. That's controlling for all of the different factors in a passenger's body, the car model, and whether or not the passenger is wearing a seat belt.
CityLab's Sarah Holder first reported the study on July 18, and she pointed out that the non-representative dummy is likely linked to women's significantly-higher likelihood or being maimed or killed in a car crash.
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Male test dummies, which were the only kind that were widely used until 2003, when the 110-pound female dummy was introduced, are much more representative of the male population, the researchers told CityLab.
"Manufacturers and designers used to all be men," Dr. David Lawrence, director of the Center for Injury Prevention Policy & Practice at San Diego State University, told ABC News in 2012. "It didn't occur to them they should be designing for people unlike themselves. Well, we got over that."
The need for a male and a female test dummy comes down to the "ways that men and women are different bio-mechanically," Jason Forman, a principal scientist at UVA's Center for Applied Biomechanics and a study author, told CityLab.
For example, women have wider pelvises and more tissue around the waist and thighs rather than the belly. There are also more complicated issues like hormonal impacts on tissues.
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