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Flaws with seat belt tests may increase accident risks for women

Women in Minnesota and other states are more likely to be injured in car crashes than men. It's commonly thought that a main reason for this fact is because seat belts aren't designed with women in mind. However, a University of Virginia suggests that part of the problem may also involve crash test dummies.

The study suggests that little effort is made to accurately represent the bulk of the average human woman when crash test dummies are used to simulate auto accidents and the injuries that could result from them. Researchers also note that most crash tests are done on average male-type dummies. Introduced in 2003, the average female-type dummy is 5 feet in height and weighs 110 pounds. These stats are outside the actual dimensions of the average woman.

One report notes that the odds of serious injury or death when a car accident occurs are nearly 75% greater for women than men. One of the scientists who conducted the study points out that bio-mechanical differences between men and women could also affect the type of protection that's provided by a seat belt in a vehicle. Differences with fat distribution, pelvis shape, and other biological and structural issues can further impact how the body and its skeletal structures interact with a seat belt. The hope is that auto manufacturers will consider this information as they design seat belts for future vehicle models. Other common car safety features are more gender neutral.

A car accident lawyer may use this research about crash test dummies to determine if the seat belts included in a vehicle were capable of providing sufficient protection. Because other factors can be involved with an auto accident, a personal injury attorney often considers the actions of the other driver if negligence is suspected. Manufacturer defects might be another factor that determines what legal steps are recommended.

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