Why Women Are at Greater Risk of Injury in Car Crashes


Despite men being involved in more car accidents overall, research shows women are more likely to be injured in the event of a crash. This surprising fact has spurred investigations into the reasons behind this gender disparity. While some might assume biological differences are to blame, the answer lies more in societal factors and car design.

Reasons for This Increased Risk

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a key factor is the type of vehicle typically driven by men and women. Their research indicates women are more likely to be behind the wheel of smaller, lighter cars compared to men who favor larger vehicles like SUVs and pickup trucks. These heavier vehicles offer more protection in a collision, absorbing more of the impact force.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also points to the types of crashes women are more likely to experience. Women are statistically more often involved in side-impact and rear-end collisions, where the brunt of the force falls on the lighter-weight vehicles they tend to drive.

Physical Disparities & Injury Susceptibility

When it comes to car crashes, the differences between male and female physiology are not just a matter of size or strength; they're a matter of safety. Women's bodies are structurally different from men's, with variations in muscle distribution, bone density, and joint flexibility. These anatomical and physiological nuances contribute to different injury outcomes in the event of a car crash. For instance, women tend to have less muscle mass around the neck and upper torso, which can affect how their bodies respond to the force of a collision. Understanding these disparities is crucial in tailoring safety measures that can effectively protect all vehicle occupants.

Safety Equipment & Gender Discrepancies

Safety equipment in vehicles, such as seat belts and airbags, is often designed with the 'average' person in mind. However, this 'average' is typically based on male body characteristics, which can lead to a mismatch in safety for female bodies.

For example, seat belts may not fit as snugly over a woman's pelvis or may sit too high on the abdomen, potentially causing injury in a crash. Airbags, too, are deployed with a force calculated for male bodies, which can be harmful to women who are shorter or lighter.

Traditionally, crash tests relied solely on male dummies, neglecting the biomechanical differences between men and women. Thus, women are at a greater risk for injury because of this oversight.

Moving Towards a Safer Future

Thankfully, these issues are being addressed. At the end of 2023, a female crash test dummy was unveiled; this crash test dummy, for the first time in over 60 years, accurately shows what can happen to the average woman in a crash. Additionally, car manufacturers are increasingly focusing on safety across all vehicle classes, not just larger models.

Staying Safe

As a woman driver, you can also take steps to mitigate risk. Consider choosing a car with a high safety rating, prioritizing features like strong side-impact protection and airbags. Always wear your seatbelt properly and ensure all passengers are buckled up as well.

Injured in a negligence-related car accident? Contact the Law Office of Joseph A. Lazzara, P.C. online or via phone at (720) 809-8262.