gioconda: (Default)
[personal profile] gioconda
...In 1973, “crash-test dummies” became a mandated part of safety standards for the first time. These were the devices we now think of when we hear the term: mannequins belted into test cars that are crashed into various objects. These dummies were used in frontal crash tests, not just for identifying potential impact points. The mandated dummy, known as Hybrid II, was a 50th percentile male -- in other words, the average American guy. Perhaps because the dummy was so complex and costly, regulators and automakers moved from using two extreme sizes to using one model.

But a female dummy didn’t become a mandatory part of frontal crash tests until last year. For all this time, the average American guy stood for us all.

That may have had a substantial impact on women’s auto safety. If airbags are designed for the average male, they will strike most men in the upper chest, creating a cushion for their bodies and heads. Yet small women might hit the airbag chin first, snapping their heads back, potentially leading to serious neck and spinal injuries.

In some cases, according to tests with female mannequins, small women were almost three times as likely as their average male counterparts to be seriously injured or killed. A study of actual crashes by the University of Virginia’s Center for Applied Biomechanics found that women wearing seatbelts were 47 percent more likely to be seriously injured than males in similar accidents.

Time and again, we are reminded that women still struggle to receive equal pay and treatment in the work place. Women haven’t received equal treatment in the design of the cars they drive, either -- and it may have had deadly results.
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