Study shows small vehicles present higher injury risks for women
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety research has revealed women are more likely to be injured or killed in roadway accidents despite being involved in fewer accidents than men.
A recent IIHS study examined front and side collisions from 1998 through 2015 to compare injuries sustained in those accidents by men and women. The data showed women were 28% more likely than men to be killed in an accident and 73% more likely to be seriously injured.
The discrepancy, IIHS determined, largely came down to vehicle size.
The study indicated about 70% of women were driving smaller vehicles at the time of a collision, compared to 60% of men. Taking the differences in vehicle size into account, women were found to be twice as likely as men to suffer a serious injury in front-to-rear collisions. In side crashes, women were 50% more likely to sustain serious injuries.
Collisions involving two vehicles of similar sizes and weights showed a decreased discrepancy in injuries between men and women.
“A bigger, heavier vehicle will provide better crash protection than a smaller, lighter vehicle, assuming there are no other differences,” said David Tenembaum, actuarial manager for Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co.
“The greater distance from the front of a vehicle to the occupant compartment in larger vehicles offers better protection in frontal crashes,” Tenenbaum said. “Heavier vehicles also tend to continue moving forward during crashes with lighter vehicles and other obstacles, subjecting passengers inside to less force.”
IIHS concluded that its study highlighted the need for increased research of injury risks for female drivers, specifically on how their bodies react to the force of collisions.
While research exposed a worrying trend among female drivers, Jessica Jermakian, IIHS vice president of vehicle research, noted recent safety enhancements to vehicles are benefiting all drivers.
“The good news is that changes like strengthening the occupant compartment and improving seat belts and airbags have helped protect both men and women,” Jermakian said. “Homing in on the risk disparities that still exist in compatible crashes gives us a great opportunity to make further gains.”