Why Are Women More Likely to be Injured in a Car Crash?

New IIHS Study Examines Injury Risk Based on Sex

A new study by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) looks at the reasons why women are far more likely than men to sustain serious injuries during an automobile accident – specifically, leg injuries.  There is some indication that the injury risk discrepancy is less related to physical differences than the kinds of vehicles that women drive along with the mechanism of the crashes.  

The issue was studied because the injury risk discrepancy between the sexes has resulted in calls for new crash dummies that more accurately reflect how a woman’s body will react to collision forces.  IIHS began this new study to illuminate the issue and see what types of changes to its tests may be warranted.

Adjusting for Various Factors

Men are more likely than women to be involved in a fatal crash, but women are more than 20% more likely to be killed on a per crash basis.  Women are between 35-75% more likely to suffer serious injuries when factors such as speed are adjusted.  When researchers at IIHS compared similar crash types, however, they found that the discrepancies largely disappeared.  The data showed that improvements to vehicle crashworthiness have resulted in benefits to both sexes on a roughly equal basis.

What Accounts for the Difference?

Women drive lighter, smaller cars more often than men and they are also more likely to be involved in side-impact and front-to-rear impacts.  When those differences were accounted for, the injury margins narrowed dramatically.  The institute ran tests to attempt to determine how much of the injury risk discrepancy was due to physical differences between women and men, and when all variables were adjusted, it was found that the increased risk was probably due to other factors.  

One such factor that may explain the higher injury rates for women is the choice of vehicle.  Women and men crashed in SUVs and minivans at about equal numbers.  On the other hand, approximately seventy percent of women wrecked in cars, opposed to around sixty percent of men.  More than one out of every five men crashed while driving pickup trucks, versus less than five percent of women. Examining vehicle classes, men had a tendency to crash in larger, heavier vehicles that offered more collision protection.

Physical Differences and Injury Risk

There were sex-related differences found during the research of front crashes, but they were labeled “statistically insignificant.” It was determined that taking all factors into consideration, women were still nearly three times more prone than men to suffer leg injuries of moderate severity, and around 70% more likely to sustain serious leg injuries.

Strengthening the occupant compartment and improving airbags and seat belts have helped protected women and men.  This further testing seeks to hone in on the disparities in risk that remain within compatible crashes in order to make additional improvements to safety.

Watch the YouTube video uploaded by IIHS documenting one of their engineer’s LEGO crash test.

Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer 

Hello, my name is Ed Smith, and I have been a personal injury lawyer in Sacramento, California, for more than 38 years.  During those nearly four decades, I have worked tirelessly to protect the rights of Northern Californians who have been injured as a result of another party’s negligence.  Thank you for reading our discussion focusing on the recent IIHS study about injury risk differences between men and women.  Our hope is that vehicle and highway safety continues to improve.  Until that time, we will keep advocating on behalf of the injured.  If you or a loved one is seeking compassionate, free, and friendly legal advice following a car crash, please reach out to one of the injury lawyers on my team at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 (toll-free).  If you prefer electronic communication, please send your inquiry via our online contact form.

Photo Attribution: https://pixabay.com/photos/drive-woman-would-be-2246928/

mm llo [cs 665]

Contact Information