Despite the fact that men tend to be more aggressive drivers than women, women are more likely to be injured or killed in a car crash. However, female crash test dummies are still used less frequently than male ones.
Many people don’t even realize there are male and female versions, as well as child-size crash test dummies. Many safety advocates and lawmakers have long advocated for greater use of female ones. They’re still advocating not just for more, but more realistic versions – not just smaller versions of male dummies.
Why female crash test dummies shouldn’t just be smaller versions of male ones
The average woman isn’t just smaller than the average man. She has less muscle mass and lower centers of gravity. Those calling out the long delays in making these advancements in creating more realistic female dummies to better reflect how humans are injured in crashes also want them used in all types of crash tests and in varying locations in the vehicle. In some tests, for example, female dummies aren’t placed in the driver’s seat.
One congressperson says, “This is 2023, and we still don’t have a [bio-realistic] crash test dummy for females in cars. That is absolutely outrageous and stunning…that we are still fighting for equal representation where federal dollars are being used.”
Costs and culture wars
A commonly cited reason is cost. Some members of the House of Representatives have added funds to an appropriations bill for use by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to develop them.
Sadly, like so many issues in Washington, D.C., the push for greater use of and more realistic female crash test dummies has become a source of partisan bickering. Responding to mocking by some media organizations of the idea of spending millions of dollars on female crash test dummies, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said, “Not everything has to be a culture war.” In a statement, NHTSA acknowledged that “gender disparities in outcomes of traffic crashes are unacceptable and NHTSA is dedicated to solving this problem using all the tools we have.”
It’s not uncommon for men and women to suffer very different injuries in the same crash – due in part to where they are in the vehicle as well as their physiological differences. You can’t compare your injuries to anyone else’s – nor should an insurance company. If you’ve been injured by an at-fault driver, it’s crucial to get the compensation you need to deal with your medical expenses and other costs and damages.