Why do Women Fare Worse in Car Accidents Than Men?

According to the NHTSA, men are statistically more likely to be involved in car accidents than women. This is due to the fact that men tend to drive more miles each year, and are more likely to engage in risky driving behaviors. But in spite of the fact that men are more likely to get into car accidents, women are more likely to be injured or die in car accidents. In fact, a woman is 13.4 percent more likely to die in a car accident than a man driving the same vehicle. So what’s the reason for this apparent discrepancy?

It all has to do with vehicle crash testing procedures. Automakers have been crash testing vehicles since the 1930’s, and they’ve been using anatomically-correct dummies in crash tests since the 1980’s. Until very recently, however, these dummies were all based on male human physiology. Car manufacturers thought male dummies would provide roughly accurate representations of how all human bodies behaved in car accidents, but that assumption turned out to be far from the truth. In addition to generally being smaller in stature, women also have different musculature and bone density than men. This can make them more vulnerable in certain types of car accidents.

Female dummies weren’t widely used in crash tests until the early 2000s, and they weren’t required to be included in tests until a federal regulation was passed in 2011. As a result, cars manufactured within the last five years are generally safer for female drivers than older vehicles.

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