Learning from Dummies (Lady Crash Test Dummies, That Is)

by Intern Tessa

Driving is one of my favorite things to do. The feeling of freedom I get when tearing down the highway at 60 MPH with the window down, and screaming along to my favorite tunes is amazingly exhilarating. That’s why feeling safe in my vehicle is super important to me.


The Washington Post reported that Crash Test Dummies have traditionally been built like men, so when cars did safety tests, they weren’t testing everyone’s safety (which, of course, resulted in faulty safety ratings). Beginning in 2011, the federal government replaced these old dummies with smaller ones that resemble women. That year’s Toyota Sienna, when tested crashing into a barrier at 35 mph, previously registered a 15 percent chance of killing or seriously injuring someone. But when tested with the new female dummy, this risk registered at 20 to 40 percent.

A smaller person is more likely to be injured in a car accident–when cars wrap around trees or poles, small drivers and passengers suffer more head, abdominal, and pelvic injuries, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Women’s necks are also less muscular, so they’re more susceptible to whiplash. And, according to the University of Virginia’s Center for Applied Biomechanics, women in crashes wearing seatbelts have a 47% higher chance of serious injury than male seat-belted drivers, and a 71% higher chance of moderate injuries.

So if you’re looking into a new car, or even a rental car, finding a 2011 model that has done a gender-inclusive safety test may be worth doing. Let’s let men know that we *both* own the road, ladies!

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