A Swedish company has developed the first female crash test dummy

Un’azienda svedese ha sviluppato il primo manichino donna per crash test della storia thumbnail

It is certainly not the first topic of discussion that comes to mind when addressing the issue of gender equality. However, the data is interesting: a crash test dummy based on a woman’s body has never been made. At least until today, as a group of Swedish researchers decided to put an end to male hegemony in the field of cars, creating a mannequin with an average height of 162 centimeters and a weight of 62 kilograms. According to the researchers, these would be the height and weight of an average woman.

In reality the problem is much more serious than one might think e a change, in this sense, was absolutely necessary.

Crash tests are lifesaving, but they are meant for men

In the 1970s, the development of crash test dummies literally revolutionized road safety. Suddenly car manufacturers found themselves forced to – literally – crash their vehicles into concrete walls, with mannequins representing the human body inside. The aim was obviously to measure the consequences of a real impact on those inside the vehicle. The use of the mannequin was essential because, as you can imagine, not many testers were willing to take part in a real crash test.

Since then the crash test dummy has been improved, perfected and designed to faithfully represent the body of a man, but not a woman.

And this is precisely where the problem arises. Crash test dummies are always male or child, and women in the car are often represented by a smaller version of the male mannequin.

Why a female crash test dummy is essential

A recent study from the University of Virginia reveals that women sitting in the front seat are significantly more likely to be injured in a car accident than men. Also they have almost three times more likely to suffer whiplash in an accident with respect to the male counterpart. According to the research, both of these factors are attributable to the fact that automotive safety technologies are geared to the male body.

“We know from injury statistics that if we look at low-severity impacts, women are most at risk,” she said. Astrid Linder, the lead researcher of the Swedish team, in an interview with the BBC. “We absolutely have to make sure that the part of the population at the highest risk is represented”.

The researchers hope that this new mannequin will be able to bridge this gap by improving the safety of women in cars. Before that can happen you have to overcome some bureaucratic impediments. Dr Linder is calling for regulators around the world to recognize, and enforce, the use of female dummy in crash tests. In fact, there is currently no regulation in this sense. Manufacturers could therefore simply choose to adopt only male mannequins, as they have been doing for about 50 years.