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Auto manufacturers accounting for female bodies in crash tests

Have you ever considered that crash test dummies should not be gender neutral? Considering that women's body sizes and shapes are different than those of men, it naturally makes sense that when designing vehicles with an eye toward preventing the wrongful deaths of passengers, that women's bodies, as well as men's would be taken into account.

Interestingly enough, however, testing the safety of vehicles with female test dummies is a relatively new concept. This may be because manufacturers and designers were always male, or that they simply never considered using other sizes of dummies.

"Manufacturers and designers used to all be men," said Dr. David Lawrence, director of the Center for Injury Prevention Policy & Practice. "It didn't occur to them they should be designing for people unlike themselves. Well, we got over that."

Now, the Michigan auto industry and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) seem to finally be taking the issue of the size of vehicle occupants seriously. After decades of only testing cars with male dummies, female dummies are now being used.

In fact, GM is currently using 200 different types of body shapes and sizes, 35 of which can be considered female. This is good news coming from the auto industry for females, children and anyone else in need of protection in a serious car accident.

The reason?

Data collected from crash tests using dummies of varying sizes can be utilized to improve vehicle design and auto safety ratings.

The NHTSA believes that this new approach will help ensure the protection of all vehicle occupants -- regardless of age, gender or size. Hopefully, car designers will be able to improve safety and prevent wrongful deaths for years to come.

Source: abcNEWS.com, "Female Crash Dummies Injured More: What Car Should Women Buy?" Alan Farnham, March 29, 2012

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