Regardless of anybody’s personal views on the matter, studies have generally confirmed that, while women may not be better drivers than men, they’re certainly inclined to be safer. Male drivers tend to take more risky chances on the road, including speeding, than their female counterparts.
Why, then, are women 17% more likely to die in a crash and 73% more likely to be seriously injured than the male occupants of the same vehicle? It all comes down to the way safety features are designed – and those are strictly around an ideal male prototype.
The myth of the 50th-percentile male
Way back in the 1970s when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) started turning its attention to automotive safety features, the first crash test dummies started to be used in automotive design and testing. Those dummies were pretty much uniformly designed to match the “average” or “50th-percentile” male, someone who is 171 pounds and 5’9” tall.
Not only has the average male body shifted size since that time, but dummies that size are also nowhere near representative of the average female body. That means that a car’s safety features – everything from the way the seat belts are designed to the way the airbags are placed – are oriented around someone who is bigger than the average woman and with different musculature.
Automotive safety design has come a long way in the last few decades, but women still face discrimination in subtle ways that can affect their entire lives after a wreck. If you or someone you love has been injured, it’s wise to find out more about your right to compensation for your losses.