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by Tim Beissmann

Women are more likely to be injured in car crashes than men because vehicle safety features are designed primarily for men.

That’s the word from three researchers at the University of Virginia, who studied US crash data from 1998 to 2008 to determine the impact of a driver’s gender on their chance of being injured in a crash.

The study, Vulnerability of Female Drivers Involved in Motor Vehicle Crashes, found the odds of a seatbelt-restrained female driver sustaining severe injuries were 47 per cent higher than those for a seatbelt-restrained male driver involved in a comparable crash.

Studies have previously looked at the driving patterns and risk behaviour of male and female drivers, but this is believed to be the first to investigate if advances in occupant safety technology provide equal injury protection for drivers of either sex in a serious or fatal crash.

The researchers said the higher risk factor for women was related to the position of head restraints in cars, which generally failed to account for the different size and strength of their necks.

Women are also more likely to sustain lower extremity injuries because of their shorter average height compared with men.

The researchers concluded by insisting that health policies and vehicle regulations needed to focus on effective safety designs specifically tailored towards females for equity in injury reduction.




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