A new study conducted by The American Journal of Public Health has revealed that women drivers are at greater risk in car crashes because seatbelts and other lifesaving devices installed in cars are not designed for their bodies.
In order to determine whether driver gender influenced injury risk, the study gathered crash data from across the United States between 1998 and 2008. Forty-three percent of the drivers were female, and the overall average age of all the drivers was 36. Eleven percent of drivers were older than 60.
According to the researchers, female drivers wearing seatbelts were 47 per cent more likely to suffer serious injury than males. Belted female drivers suffered more chest and spine injuries than strapped-in male drivers in comparable crashes.
The positioning of head restraints, for example, fails to take account of the size and strength of women’s necks.
The researchers noted:
“a higher risk of lower extreme injuries reported for female drivers as a result of their relatively short stature, preferred seating posture and a combination of these factors yielding lower safety protection from the standard restraint devices.”
Based on these results, the study authors concluded in a news release that “female motor vehicle drivers today may not be as safe as their male counterparts; therefore, the relative higher vulnerability of female drivers when exposed to moderate and serious crashes must be taken into account”.
But not everyone is buying the research. Clarence Ditlow of the Center for Auto Safety stated for ABC News:
“The average life of a car is around 12 years. The study would have a lot more value if it were limited to 2000 and later model year vehicles to make sure all vehicles had female friendly airbags”.
Since new 2012 models are coming out now, some of the cars used in the study are almost 20 years old.