Statistics show women are more likely to be injured, die in motor vehicle crashes, and auto designs may be to blame

October 13, 2021 | 2:08 pm


10,000 women die in car crashes each year because of bad auto design.

That’s the headline from a new report published in Fast Company, which highlights the fact that women are 72% more likely to be injured, and 17% more likely to die in a car crash than men. The report also reveals that crash tests by government agencies are only performed using a male driver, and there is no mandated test that simulates a female driver.

In all, 10,420 women died from motor vehicle crashes in 2019, and over 1 million suffered injuries.

“None of this is surprising to car manufacturers or the government agency responsible for car safety standards, both of which have known these statistics for decades,” the author writes. “While bias plagues many of our nation’s institutions, perhaps none are as shocking as a government- and industry-sanctioned practice that protects men and kills or seriously injures the other 50% of the population. The government’s long-acknowledged negligence bears the responsibility, while women and their families carry the consequences.”

The report continues: “The sisterhood of vehicle-crash victims is farther reaching than we realized. Mothers and daughters are bonded not by stories and laughs, but by traumatic brain injuries, permanent scars, and moments of horror sealed into memory.”

 

TESTING & DESIGN

The National Highway Safety Transportation Association (NHSTA) is the nation’s safety rating agency, which rates every manufactured car in our country. The agency recreates impacts of frontal, rollover, side, and side pole crashes.

But according to the Fast Company’s report, for tests with women in the passenger seat, the dummy used to represent women is a scaled down male model that lacks anything else that distinguishes between sexes, including bone densities, muscle structures, and abdominal and chest differences. Perhaps this is the reason women are 22% more likely to suffer a head injury than men, and while reducing 70% of whiplash in men. For women, the seatbelts and airbags that protect men can actually cause additional injury, leaving women with “permanent scars from the seatbelts we were raised to believe would save our lives, but which also nearly ended them.”

Among other reasons women are at a greater risk to suffer injuries and deaths, according to the author:

  • Men tend to drive smaller, lighter vehicles, while men gravitate toward bigger cars and trucks.
  • Heavy vehicles are also a greater threat to pedestrians than small cars, and pedestrians are more likely to be women or people of color.
  • Women are often excluded from critical design decisions. The people sitting around the table in most transportation, engineering, and automotive conversations are usually men.

 

WHAT SHOULD BE DONE

To start, the country’s INVEST in America Act would require updated, equitable dummy crash testing. The Senate version of this same infrastructure bill does not include this, however. In addition, more women should be included in production design, experts agree.

“This is the moment to make this historic and needed change in vehicle safety,” the author writes. “We will no longer be ignored, left out, and endangered. It is time for our government to stand up for the most vulnerable.”

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at chainlaw.com.