Are Cars Less Safe for Women?


According to studies from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a female passenger or driver who is wearing a seat belt is 17 percent more likely to die in a car accident than a male. A study from the University of Virginia states that women are 73 more likely to be seriously injured in a frontal car accident compared to men. Now, a group of former Congress members and gender equality and transportation leaders have sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation voicing their concerns over gender inequity in vehicle crash testing.

The reason for this is because these tests utilize crash test dummies that represent a 1970s-era man in the driver’s seat, according to Verity Now. The organization is asking the U.S. Department of Transportation to examine ongoing gender inequity issues in vehicle crash testing.

The letter stated that because of the differences in physiology and driver positioning, women’s and men’s bodies react differently in a car accident. The letter asked for state-of-the art technology that can replicate the genders and various body sizes to be used, especially models that closely resemble women and children of different ages and sizes. According to the letter, the government’s protocol for car crash testing is archaic and unequal.

In addition, the letter explained that when compared to their male counterparts, women in car accidents are over nine percent more likely to die as a result of a neck injury. Also, standard seat belts do not fit over 60 percent of pregnant women in their third trimester.

How Biological Differences Can Affect Driving Skills

High levels of testosterone can enhance two very critical driving skills: visual processing and spatial awareness. The brain’s ability to understand images is visual processing, which can allow a motorist to understand road conditions and the motions of other vehicles. Tenths of a second could be the difference between a car accident and avoiding a collision, making visual processing a critical ability. The capacity to recognize the correlation between yourself and other objects is spatial awareness.

Testosterone can also increase aggression. This does not mean that men are aggressive motorists, but testosterone can make some drivers feel overconfident in their ability to maneuver their vehicle in traffic.

Estrogen can also affect the way a woman drives. Estrogen enhances concentration, which improves a woman’s skill to focus on the road without disruption. Additionally, alleviated levels of estrogen are linked with a strong memory. Being able to quickly recognize routes enhances safety while driving.

Men typically drive more miles than women, which gives them more experience behind the wheel. However, it also correlates to men being involved in more car accidents than women. Additionally, men typically engage in more risky driving behaviors compared to women.

Gender Fatality Statistics

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently released a report about deaths between both female and male drivers. The research revealed that from 1975 to 2019, the amount of male crash deaths was more than twice the number of female crash deaths each year. However, the number of deaths between the genders had decreased. The study found that in the same time period, male crash deaths dropped by 22 percent, and female crash deaths decreased by 12 percent.

The study found that 71 percent of all car crash fatalities in 2019 were male drivers, who accounted for 71 percent of passenger vehicle driver deaths and 48 percent of passenger vehicle passenger deaths. The IIHS reported that per capita, passenger vehicle occupant fatality levels during 1975 to 2019 for males were almost double that of females. The rate of passenger vehicle occupant deaths per 100,000 people decreased 56 percent among males and 41 percent among females during that timeline.

Rates were considerably higher for males than for females between 16 to 29 years old but were only marginally higher for those 30 years old or older. The study concluded that from 1982 to 2019, speeding was found to be a factor in a large portion of the fatal accidents involving male drivers.

Achieving Gender Equity in Car Safety

Verity Now states that three outcomes are needed in order to achieve gender equity in car safety. The NHTSA’s new car assessment program (NCAP) must begin utilizing dummies that represent females. This initiative will help close the gender and safety gap. Additionally, the NHTSA should create a program for modernizing the NCAP standards in three-year cycles in order for the industry to plan resources and implement technology to increase safety.

Northeast Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Wiggins Law, LLC Can Help You if You Have Been Injured in a Serious Collision

No matter your gender, being involved in a car accident can affect your life. Research suggests that government standards need to be updated to accommodate safety features for women, and a car accident can have severe consequences for all parties involved. Our Northeast Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Wiggins Law, LLC can help you if you have been injured in a collision. Call us at 267-225-0770 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Northeast Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout the Philadelphia area, including Kensington, Tacony, Torresdale, Mayfair, Port Richmond, Allegheny, and Olney, Pennsylvania.