Why Do Women Have Higher Injury Risks in Car Accidents?

A recent report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says women are more likely than men to be injured or killed when they are involved in car crashes of similar severity. This holds true despite the fact that men drive more miles, drive more aggressively and get into more car crashes than women.

Much of the heightened injury risk for women is related to the types of vehicles women drive and the circumstances of their crashes, the IIHS report says.

Men tend to drive heavier vehicles, which offer more protection in collisions, the study says. Men and women crashed in minivans and SUVs in about equal proportions. However, around 70 percent of women crashed in cars, compared with about 60 percent of men. More than 20 percent of men crashed in pickup trucks. Less than 5 percent of women were driving pickups when they crashed.

“The numbers indicate that women more often drive smaller, lighter cars and that they’re more likely than men to be driving the vehicle that is struck in side-impact and front-into-rear crashes,” Jessica Jermakian, IIHS vice president of vehicle research and one of the study’s authors, said. “Once you account for that, the difference in the odds of most injuries narrows dramatically.”

Consumer Reports says in its report about the study that research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has shown that a female driver or female passenger in the front seat wearing a seat belt is 17 percent more likely than a male to be killed when a crash takes place. A study from the University of Virginia showed that a female occupant’s odds of being injured in a frontal crash are 73 percent greater than the odds for a male occupant.

CR and others suggest that the lack of crash test dummies that adequately represent the average female body leads automakers to design vehicles targeted to protect the typical man, represented by a 171-pound, 5-foot-9-inch dummy that is used in the majority of crash tests.

Injuries Women Are Likely To Suffer in Car Accidents

For the study, IIHS researchers analyzed the injuries of men and women wearing seat belts in police-reported tow-away front and side crashes from 1998-2015 and reviewed additional data from the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System. Researchers evaluated the effects of occupant gender on injury risk in front and side collisions while controlling for non-physiological crash differences. Additionally, the researchers compared the effects of crashworthiness improvements for women and men.

Among the findings of the 18-page study, entitled Injury Risks and Crashworthiness Benefits for Females and Males: Which Differences Are Physiological? are that:

young woman driving a sports car

  • Women are 20-28% more likely than men to be killed if involved in a car accident and 37-73% more likely to be seriously injured.
  • In front crashes, women were 3 times more likely than men to experience a moderate injury such as a broken bone or concussion and twice as likely to suffer a serious injury such as a
    collapsed lung or traumatic brain injury.
  • Women are more than 2½ times more likely to suffer moderate leg injuries in car accidents.
  • In two-vehicle front-to-rear and front-to-side crashes, men are more likely to be driving the striking vehicle. Because the driver of the striking vehicle is at lower risk of injury than the struck vehicle in such crashes, this could account for some of the difference in crash outcomes for men and women.
  • Serious and fatal injury risk has declined more for women than men in recent years as vehicles have become safer.

The study says that improvements in vehicle crashworthiness may be required to provide women additional protection against leg injuries in car accidents. But “much of the remaining discrepancy in sex-based injury risk can be attributed [to] differences between vehicles and crashes, not to physiological differences.”

“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 comparable crashes gives us a great opportunity to make further gains.”

Car and Driver says the study shows that “careful vehicle selection can mitigate your risk of being hurt in an accident, no matter who you are. IIHS found that occupants of vehicles that had earned IIHS’s top Good rating in its moderate front overlap crash test corresponded to a lower risk of head and lower body injuries for all drivers.”

Contact a Car Accident Attorney

If you have been seriously injured in a car accident that was not your fault, you deserve full restitution from the at-fault driver for your medical bills, vehicle repairs, lost income, and other losses. Las Vegas car accident lawyers Sam Mirejovsky and Ash Watkins of Sam & Ash, LLP are ready to do everything they can to help injured people pursue a personal injury claim and get the compensation needed to move forward. They believe that attorneys who genuinely care about their clients achieve better results. The attorneys at Sam & Ash will fight for you to receive proper medical care and the insurance settlement you deserve.

Sam & Ash, LLP is available 24 hours a day to help you. And there is never a fee unless the law firm obtains money for you through an insurance settlement or a court award. At Sam & Ash, LLP, the focus is on you and What’s Right. Contact Sam & Ash and talk with an experienced car accident attorney for free.