Protecting Woman Drivers (or: Woman Aren’t Dummies, So Why Shouldn’t Dummies Be Women?)

March 26th, 2012

Inspired by Crash test data start to reflect gender: Use of female dummies reflects new thinking about auto safety ratings (Washington Post3/26/12 A1) on how auto safety ratings have not historically considered (and still don’t completely consider) the different accident risks that female drivers face because the ratings are based on tests with male dummies.

In America, women are allowed to drive.

Shouldn’t they also be allowed, an accident to survive?


As is so often the case, a policy fails

Because the dummies are almost all males.


I didn’t even know before I read this article that crash test dummy star ratings have excluded women in their calculations for decades, and still exclude women drivers. That’s ridiculous. Accident analysis is by its very nature worst case, so if women have a higher risk of serious injury or death, safety ratings should reflect that.

Case in point: the 2011 Toyota Sienna has a 4-out-of-5 star safety rating based on male driver survivability, but a woman (or 12 year old kid) passenger has a 20-40% chance of getting killed in a 35 mph crash, compared to 15% in comparable models.

All the necessary tests are already being conducted for mandated safety tests, so the data exists. It needs to be made easily available and understandable to consumers.


Here’s one of the old crash test dummy commercials. Remember these? They were very effective in getting more people to wear seatbelts.


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