Road safety: the average male as a norm in vehicle occupant crash safety assessment

This article (published in Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, written by Astrid Linder and Mats Svensson) addresses how women and men are represented in regulatory tests conducted to assess adult occupant safety in vehicles. Injury statistics show that protection in the event of a crash is lower for females than males. Still, vehicle crash safety assessment for adult occupants is only using the average sized male to represent the entire adult population, while the average sized female is not represented.

In order to enable car manufacturers and road safety regulators to safeguard that females benefit equally from crash safety measures as males, it is necessary to develop new dedicated occupant models. These new models must represent the female part of the population, i.e. crash test dummies and human body models representing the average female. New female models would, together with their male equivalents, make it possible to identify the vehicle occupant safety systems which provide the best safety features for both females and males.

The aims of this study were to review how the adult population is represented in vehicle safety assessment tests, provide an overview of the main differences in average female and male properties of importance in vehicle crashes, compile road traffic injury statistics in terms of female and male injury risk and provide recommendations on how to better represent the whole adult population in vehicle safety assessments.