First Female Car Crash Test Dummy

Did you know that the most commonly used car crash dummy has been based on the average male build and weight? The dummy that is sometimes used as a proxy for women is a scaled-down version of the male one, roughly the size of a 12-year-old girl and represents the smallest 5% of women by the standards of the mid-1970s.
As women are shorter and lighter on average than men, have differences in muscle strengths and in the shape of the torso, hips and pelvis, they physically respond differently in a car crash.
A 2019 study by the University of Virginia found that seat belt-wearing women were 73% more likely to suffer serious injuries in a frontal car crash as opposed to seat belt-wearing men.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US showed that a woman driver, or belted front passenger, is 17% more likely than a man to be killed in a car crash. 
US government data also revealed that a woman is three times more likely to suffer whiplash injuries in rear impacts in comparison with a man. While whiplash, on most occasions doesn't cause death, it can lead to physical disabilities, some of which can be permanent.
Female Crash Test Dummy (Credit: BBC News)
Credit: BBC News

Swedish engineer Astral Linder and her team have created a crash dummy that better represents the female body. Their dummy is 162cm (5-foot-3) and weighs about 62kg (9st 7lbs). The team put emphasis on its chest shape and gave the female-modeled dummy a lower joint stiffness than its male counterpart. It's equipped with sensors and transducers to measure the force exerted on each part of the body during a car crash.
Specifically, the team is testing it in low severity rear impact collisions. In this kind of crash, women have a higher risk of whiplash than men do.
Christopher O'Connor, CEO of the crash test dummy manufacturing company Humanetics, said to BBC News that sensors are needed to measure injuries in both men and women, which will lead to “safer cars with safer airbags, with safer seatbelts, with safer occupant compartments that allow for different sizes.”

While is is fantastic that Astral Linder and her team have developed this first female crash test dummy, the laws must now be updated so that companies are required to use it. In July 2021
, a team in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced legislation to improve the federal government's vehicle safety testing practices, specifically those involving the use of crash test dummies.
As with car seat legislation the road is long to get changes made, but it is a start.