The first crash dummy modeled after women is here

The first crash dummy modeled after women is here

is the first crash dummy that was modeled after women.


Imagine the crash-test dummy you can imagine in your head. What does it look like? Is it a creepy blank face? Are those little yellow and black circles visible? Is it a “man”, or a “woman”, dummy?

Although the faces and circles may differ slightly, there is one constant: crash test dummies have always been designed after “typical” male bodies. the existing models of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are . At 4’11” and 108 lbs, the only used female dummy fits its label of “5th Percentile Adult Female”, but there are no 50th percentile women dummies. There are however two male versions of this category. Children and infant versions are also disproportioned due to the fact they are essentially scaled-down male models.

[Related: The climate and gender link, explained. ]

The ramifications are vast and troubling after over 50 years’ worth of testing transportation options solely on male crash test dummies, but as NPR recently explored, a team of Swedish researchers are hoping to shift the culture and improve safety thanks to their first dummy prototype modeled on actual women’s physiological traits. While it largely looks the same as existing dummies, its proportions, weight, height, and size far more accurately resemble women’s bodies than simply shrinking its male counterparts.

Aside from geometrical differences between male and female torsos, joint stiffnesses, and muscle mass, research team lead, Astrid Linder, explained in their interview with NPR yesterday that the most noticeable difference stems from whiplash injuries during low-severity crashes. “[W]e know since the late ’60s that females have a higher risk of these injuries than men, but we also know from higher-severity crashes that females have a higher risk of severe injuries as drivers in frontal impacts,” Linder says.

[Related: Explaining gender identity, sexism, and trans issues to kids. ]

Linder’s group has already discovered some striking ramifications from their prototype tests, especially when it comes down to how seats are designed to favor male physiologies over females. This can almost certainly be chalked up to the grim fact that regulatory boards literally say vehicle makers only need to test their products on average male models, “full stop,” explains Linder.

But with the innovative work of Linder and other researchers, transportation safety guidelines will be more equitable and efficient. Then we just have to work on all the other areas of life where this kind of inherent sexism arises.

Andrew Paul

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