Report:Women Sustain More Injuries in Car Crashes

Liz Kim | Feb 17, 2021

Sure, your car may be equipped with the latest and greatest safety technology to prevent a collision from occurring. But when an unavoidable crash does happen, are women at a disadvantage? According to the latest Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) report, they are.

Real Crash Scene Two Volvos in Sweden

The Data Tells a Tale of Gender Disparity - Find the best car deals!

Based on per-crash data, women are significantly more likely to sustain a severe injury, particularly to the legs. More ominously, women have a 20-28% greater chance of dying in a crash and a 37-73% greater likelihood of being seriously injured.

In frontal-impact crashes, women were three times more likely to suffer a moderate injury, such as a concussion or broken bone, and two times more likely to sustain serious injuries, such as a traumatic brain injury or internal injury to vital organs. 

While the data set wasn’t as robust for side-impact crashes, men and women sustained about equal amounts of moderate injuries. However, women were 50% more likely to be seriously injured.

The IIHS study analyzed crash data from 1998-2005, which involved collisions serious enough to require a police report and a tow truck. A similar report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated that a female driver or front passenger has a 17% greater chance of being killed. 

The Heavier the Car, the Greater the Protection - Find the best car deals!

According to the IIHS data, the statistics vary according to different factors, such as driver behavior and gender differences in the types of vehicles driven. 

For example, women are more likely to drive smaller, lighter cars. Men and women account for an equal percentage of minivan and SUV drivers, but 70% of women crashed in cars, versus 60% of men. More than 20% of men crashed in pickups, compared to less than 5% of women. 

Overall, men are more likely to drive heavier vehicles, which, the IIHS says, provide superior crash protection than smaller, lighter ones. Heavier vehicles move with greater force, negatively impacting lighter cars in a collision. Bigger vehicles also offer more distance from the point of impact to the passenger cabin, helping to absorb more energy from a crash.

Furthermore, the data shows that men are more likely to be driving the vehicle at fault in a collision, while the chances of injury are more significant to occupants of the car that is struck.

Summary - Find the best car deals!

In the 15 years that have elapsed since the window of data collection closed for this study, all automakers have made dramatic advancements in overall automotive safety. From greater use of high-strength steel and vehicle architectures designed to absorb and deflect crash energy to advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) that can help prevent collisions or reduce speed before impact, modern cars, trucks, and SUVs are safer than ever before.

Nevertheless, more research and development is necessary to ensure that engineers consider the breadth of human sizes and shapes to keep the majority of the public safe. For years, automakers established their safety protocols around a 5-foot, 9-inch, 171-pound person, which at the time represented the 50th percentile male. It wasn’t until 2011 that the U.S. government mandated that car companies also experiment on crash-test dummies that resemble women. Regulations do not require testing that represents children.

The good news is that in vehicles rated highly by IIHS and NHTSA for crash safety, the gender disparity in injuries narrows considerably. As the data shows, it is more important than ever for manufacturers to engineer and offer cars that emphasize integrated safety engineering and technologies, and for consumers to choose a vehicle that performs well in governmental and private crash testing.

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