Women and men in traffic – are men more protected than women?

The annual Transportforum event in Linköping, on January 8-9, 2020, brought together the Swedish transport and mobility community. SAFER hosted a session “Women and men in traffic – are men more protected than women?”.

People moving around in the transport system are of varying length, weight, muscle mass, age and gender. Everyone needs protection, whether in a vehicle or outside. As today’s regulations are designed, half the population is excluded since many of the crash test dummies in use are based on a male body shape. In this session an updated picture of today’s level of knowledge was provided and the question of whether existing legislation needs to be developed or supplemented so that the entire population can be considered to be represented in how crash tests are conducted was discussed.  SAFER’s researchers (Astrid Linder, Mats Svensson, Anders Kullgren, Anna Carlsson and Hanna Wennberg) discussed whether it is the case that men are more protected than women in traffic and if is there a link to the design of the crash test dummies?

The law requires cars to protect only men
Regulation requires that all new car models are crash tested before they reach the market. But the crash test dummies used in the mandatory tests today are built after a man’s body. Research shows that the male stature cannot represent the population as a whole. Several studies performed within the SAFER network conclude that the risk for a woman to be seriously injured in an accident with the same crash forces is about twice as high as for a man. SAFER contributed to this year’s edition of the conference with sharing knowledge about this research and presented a vision that by 2030, the injury protection performances of new cars will be assessed for both women and men.

A presentation by VIRTUAL partners VTI and Chalmers and associated partner Folksam, created many questions and good discussions regarding the needs in the area of protection of road users and solutions.