The newer the car, the safer it is for female drivers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a new report Tuesday.
While the NHTSA’s earlier report, published in 2013, found that women are at a much higher risk of dying in car accidents compared to men, the 2022 report said that newer car technology, in line with tightened regulations, is has reduced inequality.
According to the National Roadway Safety Strategy published by the Department of Transportation in February, officials said that while men account for more than 70% of drivers involved in fatal crashes, the risk of motor vehicle fatal crashes is still higher for a woman than for a man of the same age.
The new report from the NHTSA states that the estimated difference in estimates of the risk of death for female versus male front row seat occupants is 6.3% for 2010-2020 car models. Older vehicles, with model years 1960-2009, have an inequality nearly three times greater than 18.3%.
For vehicles in the 2015-2020 model years, the difference narrowed even further, reaching 2.9%, the report said.
Newer generations of cars are equipped with dual airbags, which significantly reduces the fatal risk for women in accidents, the NHTSA said. Newer cars also have more advanced seat belts, the agency said, further reducing the risk to women.
However, the NHTSA’s administrator, Steven Cliff, said the department is still looking to improve the impact on women involved in car accidents.
“Promoting equity, including in our transportation system, is one of the Biden-Harris Administration’s top priorities,” Cliff said in a press release. “While the new report from the NHTSA shows a significant decrease in the differences in accident outcomes between women and men, more work is needed to eliminate any remaining inequalities.”
The NHTSA said a number of developments are in action to close the remaining gap, including the development of new biofidelic crash test dummies and advanced computer modeling that can evaluate the effects of different types of crashes on a wide range of shapes and sizes of the human body.
Furthermore, the agency is investigating the extent to which gender differences in injuries exist in similar accidents and the evaluation of new safety standards to eliminate any remaining inequalities.
Historically, car crash tests used only male dummies, according to the NHTSA. The agency has used a 4-foot 11-inch-long and 108-pound “female dummy” in some tests since 2003, according to the NHTSA. However, this sizing is not accurate for the body of the average woman in America.
According to the NHTSA, new federal funding through the major infrastructure bill passed last year will help accelerate research in this area to further close the gap in male and female death rates in car accidents.
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