Gender inequality has many faces, and it can lurk in places and products you never considered. One of these is the vehicle you drive.
Think back to any footage you have seen of a crash test dummy. Those crash test dummies, while lacking the full range of body parts, were based on men, not women.
Does that matter?
This is not about gender politics. It is about safety. Research suggests women are 17% more likely to die than men in a crash, and 72% more likely to suffer serious injury. The reason? Male and female bodies are not the same.
While some women choose to wear clothing designed for men, imagine if they had no choice. That is what happens with vehicles. Women must drive vehicles designed to fit men. Here are some common differences that car manufacturers need to account for:
- Height: The average male is taller than the average woman. While modern vehicles often permit you to raise or lower seats and steering wheels, they are minor adjustments. The whole car is still designed around standard male body size.
- Breasts: Few if any men have to worry about how their seat belt sits across their chest. Yet many women do. Often they have two options, push it lower, or push it higher. Each reduces its effectiveness in a crash. The steering wheel is also at breast height, which could again bring different consequences for women than men in a crash.
Female crash test dummies do exist. There are even ones to simulate pregnant women. Yet, uptake among car manufacturers is slow.
While it might be possible to take a car manufacturer to court for not catering to your body shape, it is much easier to claim against a driver that caused the crash. While improving car safety for women needs to be a priority, it still takes a crash to injure you.