Drivers in Arizona who own a vehicle that has passed all the crash tests, such as the ones performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, may feel confident that they would be protected in a crash. However, they should know that current crash tests are woefully inadequate when it comes to measuring the effect of crashes on female drivers.
This lack is all the more troubling when one considers how, for decades, women have been more liable to be injured or killed in crashes. Any female occupant wearing a seat belt is 73% more likely than a man is to be severely injured in a frontal crash. In any crash, female drivers and right-front passengers are 17% more likely than are age-matched male drivers and right-front passengers to die.
Not until 2003 was a female dummy introduced in crash tests for the IIHS and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, being nothing more than a scaled-down version of the male dummy, it does not take into account the physiological differences between male and female bodies. Women may also wear their seat belt differently and sit nearer to the steering wheel.
Having crash avoidance technology is not enough. It’s crucial that crash test standards improve because, for better or worse, most automakers simply design their cars to pass these tests.
There are some cases where victims of car accidents could conceivably hold the automakers responsible for their injuries. Perhaps there was a marketing defect or design defect involved. In most crashes involving two or more drivers, though, victims file their claim against the negligent driver’s auto insurance company. Whether the defendant was speeding or driving distractedly, victims may find it hard to gather evidence and negotiate for a settlement without legal representation, so they may wish to consult a lawyer.