Atlanta’s population is like most places: divided nearly equally between men and women. However, according to new research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), women are more likely than men to sustain serious injuries in motor vehicle crashes than men.
“We found that women are substantially more likely to suffer leg injuries,” said Jessica Jermakian, one of the study’s authors.
Serious risk of serious injuries
The IIHS says that though more men are killed in wrecks than women, on a per-crash basis, women are up to 73 percent more likely to sustain serious injuries in crashes.
The auto safety organization says the gender difference in crash injuries risks is mostly due to the fact that men tend to drive bigger vehicles than women.
Smaller, lighter vehicles
Said Jermakian, “The numbers indicate that women more often drive smaller, lighter cars and that they’re more likely than men to be driving the struck vehicle in side-impact and front-into-rear crashes. Once you account for that, the difference in the odds of most injuries narrows dramatically.”
The gender discrepancy in injury risks has spurred calls for the IIHS to incorporate crash test dummies that reflect the average height and weight of women in addition to the dummies used now that reflect the average height and weight of men.
In its recent study, the IIHS analyzed front-end crashes from 1998 to 2015, finding that women are three times as likely to suffer a moderate injury, such as a broken bone or a concussion, and twice as likely to sustain a serious injury such as a collapsed lung or traumatic brain injury.
Deep dive into crash data
To try to determine how much of the gender discrepancy is due to physical differences between women and men, researchers analyzed a set of comparable crashes that included single-vehicle and two-vehicle wrecks in which the vehicles were of similar sizes and weights.
The analysis of comparable front-impact crashes found that women are twice as likely to suffer moderate injuries and slightly more likely to sustain serious injuries.
The IIHS says the real difference in the injury risks is in vehicle choice. More than 20 percent of men crashed in pick-ups, compared to less than 5 percent of women.
A news report on the IIHS research stated that “within vehicle classes, men also tended to crash in heavier vehicles, which offer more protection in collisions.”
Separate recent research has found that Americans increasingly prefer larger, weightier vehicles because the added bulk serves as a buffer that keeps drivers and passengers safer in crashes.