The really cool thing about sexism is that it never fails to hide in a million little places that you’d truly never even expect to find it, such as car safety. It’s like a fun game of hide-and-seek!
Researchers from the University of Virginia found in 2011 that women who wore seatbelts were almost 50 percent more likely to be seriously or fatally injured in a car crash than men. Now a new study put the odds of a serious injury or death at 73 percent higher for female car crash victims. This study researched crashes between 1998 and 2015, a sample of more than 31,000 people, and in a bit of good news, also found that all riders are about half as likely to sustain injury in car models built after 2009 as in models built before then.
That doesn’t obviate the discrepancy, though. That information is at lest 9 years old, and yet, somehow, women continue to suffer – perhaps because auto safety tests really aren’t performed with women in mind.
Female crash dummies weren’t introduced until 2003, and they’re still not the most frequently used specimen for tests. Moreover, the female dummy is only 5 feet tall and weighs 110 pounds — well below the average size of an actual woman.
Though there is an argument to be made for testing at the extremes of the size spectrum, it leaves a lot of gaps.
“We obviously know a lot of ways that men and women are different bio-mechanically. These differences [fat distribution, pelvis shape]… have the potential to change the ways that seatbelts interact with the body and with our underlying skeletal structures,” explains Jason Forman, a scientist who helped conduct the University of Virginia study.
The work to investigate these variables further and figure out how to apply them to real life “just simply has not been done yet,” Jason added.
Car technology is continuing to evolve, so the sooner we can tackle this issue, the better, Jason says. Otherwise, women will also have a 73 percent greater risk of injury in those cool self-driving cars that everyone keeps talking about.