Study: Crash Test Dummies Do Not Properly Represent People of All Genders, Ages, and Sizes
This lack of diversity, both in terms of crash test dummies and the methods used to test them, could cost people their lives.
According to a new study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), crash test dummies used to gauge the safety of cars do not accurately represent certain groups, including women, older adults, and individuals with high weight. This makes it more difficult to ensure vehicles are safe for all people, according to the report.
The GAO reports that the current adult crash test dummies approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are based on decades-old data, and demographics have changed significantly since that information was collected. For instance, the report states that the male dummies used weigh approximately 171 pounds, while the average male now weighs nearly 193 pounds. Furthermore, women dummies are not placed in the driver’s seat for certain crash tests, even though the U.S. now has slightly more women licensed drivers than men.
There also aren’t any dummies in use to represent people with high weight, per the GAO.
The placement of sensors on the dummies might also impact knowledge surrounding injuries that disproportionately affect women. The GAO reports that though women are more likely to suffer leg injuries in car accidents, dummies don't have sensors on their legs, making prevention more difficult.
Dummies aren’t placed in the rear seats of cars during front-impact crash tests either. This could put populations who usually ride in the back seat, such as children or older adults, at greater risk.
This lack of diversity, both in terms of crash test dummies and the methods used to test them, could cost people their lives, the GAO warns.