Historically, car manufacturers have utilized scaled-down male crash test dummies to simulate women and children, neglecting the unique physiological differences in women’s bodies. Existing legislation mandates crash tests using male-proportioned dummies, a standard established in the 1970s, despite compelling data indicating that women face higher injury risks in frontal collisions. According to a 2019 University of Virginia study, women are 73% more likely to sustain injuries and twice as prone to whiplash due to neck morphology and car seat design. Crashes do different things to the average male and female bodies, given size and muscle differences. Thereby introducing a female crash test dummy named SET 50F.
Astrid Linder, an engineer at the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI), addressed this disparity by developing SET 50F, the world’s first female crash test dummy. Since its introduction in late 2022, this prototype, constructed from rubber, metal, and plastic, measuring 162 cm (5 feet 3 inches) and weighing 62 kg (137 pounds), has undergone testing in Sweden. Notably, SET 50F’s design incorporates narrower shoulders and wider hips, accurately representing female anatomy. These distinctions, coupled with a lower center of gravity, are pivotal in assessing the specific risks women encounter in car accidents.
Co-founder and personal injury attorney Miguel Custodio emphasizes the importance of ensuring road safety for both men and women. “Security measures must be universally inclusive, safeguarding the well-being of all individuals on the road,” Miguel said.
While some car manufacturers, including Volvo in Sweden, have adopted Linder’s SET 50F female dummy, international regulations do not currently mandate its usage. Identifying issues is pivotal, as engineers cannot address undisclosed problems. Ensuring safety for all individuals underscores the necessity of this approach in vehicle safety testing.
“Regulations should adopt a more informed approach by integrating female crash test dummies. Research indicating a higher risk of fatalities and injuries for women in car accidents suggests that the use of male-centric test dummies might be a contributing factor,” Miguel said.