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Female Drivers More Vulnerable in Motor Vehicle Accidents

Car and truck accidents can strike anyone, anywhere, at any time. Fortunately, advances in motor vehicle technology have made these collisions less catastrophic for those involved. A recent study in the American Journal of Public Health, however, suggests women may still be more susceptible to serious injuries in the event of a crash.

By examining 10 years of national crash data, researchers discovered that belt-restrained female drivers were 47% more likely to sustain injuries as compared to their male counterparts in similar accidents. Considering “motor vehicle-related trauma is the leading cause of unintentional injuries resulting in the highest number of fatalities among those aged 5 to 34 years in the United States,” this disparity is troubling.

Underrepresented in Fatal or Serious Crashes

Female drivers currently account for about 1/3 of serious or fatal motor vehicle accidents and, due to changing socioeconomic patterns, this number is expected to rise to approximately half of all serious or fatal motor vehicle accidents. This theory places urgent importance on designing vehicles that provide equal protection to all genders.

The way safety devices, like seatbelts and airbags, perform depends on the biological and biomechanical components of each driver. For example, women are typically smaller than men, so seatbelts and airbags should be designed in a way that protects people of all sizes. Traditionally, advances in safety technology have been optimized for male characteristics, but research shows these designs may not be as effective for female drivers.

Common Injuries

Throughout the study, most drivers were involved in passenger vehicle accidents. A strong majority of them (88%) sustained whole body injuries and less than 1% of drivers sustained fatal injuries. Women were 38% more likely than men to sustain chest injuries and 68% more likely to sustain injuries to their spines.

Overall, men are more likely to be in motor vehicle crashes and less likely to be seriously hurt. Statistics suggest that safety devices are less effective for female occupants, as compared to male occupants.

Differences Between Male and Female Drivers

On average, female drivers are 14 centimeters shorter and 16 kilograms lighter than their male counterparts. More female drivers have a normal BMI (body mass index) and fewer of them are overweight.

Using this information, vehicle safety engineers have developed crash test dummies to represent passengers of all shapes and sizes. Still, most safety devices are designed using the midsized adult male dummy.

What Can We Do?

Further research is needed but future advanced safety systems should be tailored specifically to provide adaptive protection in order to protect the safety of all drivers.

If you have been harmed by someone else in a motor vehicle accident, you should also hold those who caused your collision accountable. For more information about filing a personal injury lawsuit, contact Farah Law at (888) 481-9359 or schedule a free case evaluation online