For years, it has been reported that women are significantly more likely to be injured in car crashes than men—Jezebel wrote about the phenomenon back in 2011, when it appeared that seat belts were to blame. Most of the women harmed were, to quote USA Today nearly a decade ago, of “relatively short stature,” and “preferred seating posture and a combination of factors yielding lower safety protection from the standard restraint devices.” Cool, cool: seat belts weren’t designed with women in mind.
A new study from the University of Virginia suggests that, not only is the discrepancy still true, the crash test dummies commonly used to test vehicle safety runs are also at fault. Presumably, that’s because manufactures make very little effort to represent the bulk of human women when designing them.
As City Lab reports, “the odds of serious injury or death for female car-crash victims is 73 percent higher than for males,” which could have something to do with the fact that “average male” type dummies are most frequently used in crucial safety testing. When “woman-type” dummy was introduced in 2003, it was, and still is, only 5 feet tall, and weighs 110 pounds, just a touch outside the dimensions of your average woman.
Jason Forman, one of the scientists conducting the University of Virginia study, told City Lab, “We obviously know a lot of ways that men and women are different bio-mechanically. These differences [fat distribution, pelvis shape]… have the potential to change the ways that seatbelts interact with the body and with our underlying skeletal structures.” He added that the work to take this information and actually apply it to real-life safety measures “just simply has not been done yet.”
So, uh, get on with it already, car manufacturers?