Group Calls for Car Crash Dummy Equity, Claims Male Body too Favored

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - MARCH 02: A Crash test dummy is displayed during the Geneva Motor Show 2016 on March 2, 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland. (Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images)
Harold Cunningham/Getty Images

An advocacy group has written a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg calling for greater equity in car crash dummy tests, claiming that the male body has been far too favored, leading to needless deaths of women.

The letter from Vehicle Equity Rules in Transportation (VERITY NOW), co-chaired by former Republican Congresswoman Susan Molinary, claimed that vehicle crash tests have not adequately taken into account of the harmful effects that collisions have on female bodies. The letter stated:

Government standards for vehicle crash testing are outdated and unequal, causing thousands of women to be needlessly killed and injured every year. This deadly gender bias in vehicle safety is unacceptable. It is time to stop studying this issue and fix it – now.

“Females are not just smaller versions of males. Due to differences in physiology and driver positioning, women’s and men’s bodies behave differently in a crash,” it continued.

The letter further argued that women have a greater chance of suffering whiplash in a car crash “relative to males of the same age” and that women had a greater chance of dying from a neck injury. It further lamented how standard seatbelts do not accommodate pregnant women:

NHTSA’s current NCAP 5-star rating voluntary crash test regime does not require testing female dummies in the driver’s seat. Instead, a dummy derived from the measurements of a 1970s average-sized male is used. Women are significantly more prone to whiplash in a crash. Relative to males of the same age, females in deadly crashes were 9.4% more likely to die as a result of neck injury. And differences are exacerbated when women become pregnant – for instance, standard seatbelts do not fit more than sixty percent of third-trimester pregnant women.

According to Fox News, a spokesperson for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) insisted that the organization takes into account various body types when testing for safety and provided a breakdown of the tests using female body types.

“Safety is central to NHTSA’s mission and we are committed to improving safety for all road users. NHTSA does use a female crash test dummy in our compliance frontal testing program,” said a spokesperson for the NHTSA.

However, activists believe that female bodies should be tested more in the driver’s seat and the NHTSA promised to expand testing capabilities for a wider range of drivers.

“NHTSA is working to develop crash simulation and human body models to represent a wide range of occupant size, sex, and ages. These tools will be used to identify targets for future safety efforts,” the spokesman said.


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