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Research Shows Smaller Vehicles Increase Accident Injury and Death Risks for Women

April 06, 2021

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) research has discovered that women are at an increased likelihood of being injured or killed in motor vehicle accidents even though women are involved in fewer accidents than men.

A new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study reviewed front and side collisions that occurred between 1998 through 2015.  The researchers then compared the injuries suffered by men and women in those accidents.  The crash data revealed that women were 28% more prone to be killed in an auto accident than men.  The study also determined that women were 73% more likely to sustain a severe injury.

The reason for the significant difference in the rates of fatalities and injuries between the genders essentially came down to the size of the vehicles driven.  The study found that around 70% of women chose to drive smaller vehicles than 60% of men.  The report states that women were twice as likely to sustain a severe injury in front-to-rear accidents when the differences in motor vehicle size are taken into account. In side-impact collisions, women were 50% more prone to suffer a serious injury. 

Accidents involving two motor vehicles of like size and weight lessened the discrepancy in the severity of injuries between men and women.

According to David Tenembaum, the Actuarial Manager for Virginia Farm Bureau, believes that the IIHS research study proves that larger, heavier motor vehicles provide better accident protection.  Also, the greater distance between the vehicle's front and the occupant compartment, the better protection in frontal accidents.  He also stated that heavier vehicles move forward during accidents, with smaller vehicles subjecting occupants inside the larger vehicle to endure fewer accident forces.

The IIHS study deduced that its research highlighted the need for expanded analysis of accident injury risks for female drivers, particularly on how a woman's body reacts to the collision forces.

According to IIHS vice president of vehicle research, Jessica Jermakian, while the research revealed a disturbing trend amongst female drivers, recent safety technology is benefiting all drivers.  She stated that safety improvements such as strengthening the occupant compartment, improving airbag technology, and improving seat belts have improved safety for both men and women.

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Category: Auto Accidents

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