Study: Women More Likely to be Injured in Car Accidents

Women who wear seat belts are 47% more likely to be injured in a car accident compared with men who wear seat belts, according to a study by the American Journal of Public Health. 

That dramatic difference has to do with the way car safety systems are designed, at least in older models, according to ABC News. On average, women are shorter and lighter than men, so the likelihood of injury from airbags increases. Other factors, such as differences in seating posture, also increase the likelihood of injury for women.

One-size-fits-all safety systems on older vehicles also play a role. According to ABC News, men are more than three times as likely to be involved in a car crash that leads to serious injury, an indication that car companies design safety systems on a law of averages methodology.

The study, however, only involves cars built between 1998 and 2008. These types of injuries for women don’t occur with newer cars, according to Clarence Ditlow of the Center of Auto Safety.

Newer vehicles have dual-depth or dual-stage driver and passenger airbags and weight sensors that change the force of the airbag depending on occupant size, seat belt use and seat placement. These types of airbags became standard on all light-passenger vehicles after the 2007 model year, according to Consumer Guide. “The study would have a lot more value if it were limited to 2000 and later model year vehicles,” Ditlow told ABC News.

Still, if you’re operating vehicle without advanced airbags, it’s important to take into account the heightened risk of injury if you are a female driver.

Women Drivers at Greater Risk in Car Crashes, Says Study (ABC News)

By Colin Bird | October 27, 2011 | Comments (14)

Comments 

Glad to see the safety improvement otherwise, ladies would need to go sit in the back instead.

Linda Bowen

Really? What an idiotic ending. How exactly should women take into account the heightened risk of injury? And what is there to do about it? Drive from the back seat? Stay home?

J9

I agree, Linda. This article is idiotic, because it doesn't offer solutions for female drivers to minimize this safety discrepancy. For example, would a seat cushion help? How about sitting in a certain posture. Even simple suggestions such as those would be great if they did, in fact, make driving an older vehicle safer for women.

Kristy

This is always going to be an issue because of the infinite number of permutations of height, weight, torso length, and leg length in adults. My husband is 5 inches taller than I am, but our legs are just about the same length and we weigh about the same. We both drive the car with the seat all the way back, but his head brushes the roof of the car and mine doesn't.

Mark

I hate when articles like this pop up. This is ammo for anti seatbelt idiots who swear that you are safer flipping around inside the car without a restraint. I wish they mentioned what percentage of women who were not wearing any seat belts got injured in an accident. This makes sound like it's safer for women to avoid seat belts altogether. Rule one - wear a seat belt all the time. Rule two - wear a seatbelt all the time. (my quadriplegic nephew would agree)

Greg

Bad picture to go with the article: The driver isn't wearing a seat belt and has her arm over the center of the steering wheel, right where the air bag would propel her arm into her face if it deployed.

Guy DeBoer

Mr. Ditlow doesn't mention that the airbags he lobbied relentlessly for have disproportionately led to the injury of short women. Oh yeah, they're better now. Mr. Ditlow was against any type of driver bypass switch for the airbags because you, the adult driver, could not be entrusted to look after your own safety. What about the twenty intervening years his mandated technology put countless women at risk?

Note to Mark...
I wear a seat-belt and don't need a law to force me to do so; I do it willingly, as I always have done. But those "idiots" have one nagging statistic in their favor; highway fatalities, per vehicle-mile driven, have not gone down since the seat-belt laws were passed.

Driver error remains the principle cause of accident, injury, and fatality in automobiles. If technology exists to reduce the results of those errors, fine. But it should not be mandated until it can be assured that it does no harm. And even then, it should be able to be driver-bypassed because, like most things, one size does not fit all, and the individual driver is the best arbiter of what makes them safe.

Sorry to hear about your nephew; he would have been wearing a belt in my car.

D Miller

According to NHTSA fatality rates per miles driven has gone down noticeably since 1994.

Brian

I'm glad this is finally being talked about. I've been doing research in this area for over 10 yrs. My wife & daughter use a product I invented & patented called RideTight. It's been crash tested & keeps the shoulder belt off their neck & the lap belt low & tight every time they buckle up. Check out www.RideTight.com

M

...Probably becuase women are more likely to cause them.

They are likely not make any mistake if only male drivers are not arrogant. Thank you for sharing this great article.

Generally, a female has less body mass than a male. Consider two balls of unequal weights. Throw both of them against a wall with the same amount of force. Notice that the lighter ball bounces back at a greater distance. If there were a second wall to suddenly appear upon their collision with the first wall, it is highly probable that the lighter ball will be bouncing back and forth longer than the heavier one. In this scenario, the first wall is like the seat belt, the second wall is the seat, and you can guess what the balls represent. You can deduce the degree of injury that a female body, or anyone who is relatively light, suffers from a great impact. Therefore, responsible driving is a must, and that applies to both genders. One's negligence on the road always has a price. One may have the laws of physics on his side, but there are another set of laws that will make things right - the laws of man.

Kris

Alecia what are you and your trolling worker compensation lawyer scum web link doing out of the kitchen?

M

They don't take female "ditziness" into account. Thats what causes crashes.

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