Why are Women More Likely to be Injured in a Car Wreck than Men?

Side impact crash on highway

According to a new report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), women are at a greater risk of being injured in a car wreck than men. However, there are a number of factors that explain why this is the case, including the fact that women tend to drive smaller cars that are less effective at protecting vehicle occupants in the event of a collision. In addition, the study found that women are more likely to be behind the wheel of a vehicle that is hit in a side-impact accident than a front-into-rear accident. There are steps female drivers can take to significantly reduce their risk of car wreck-related personal injuries, including wearing a seat belt at all times. However, if a female motorist, or any other driver, is injured in a car wreck, he or she is urged to contact a skilled car wreck lawyer as soon as possible.

What are the Highlights of the Study?

The IIHS study aimed to gain a better understanding of why female drivers are at a greater risk of injuries than men. Researchers looked at data from police-reported accidents from 1998 to 2015. They found that women were three times as likely to suffer injuries such as concussions or broken bones in a frontal wreck compared with men. They were also more likely to suffer more serious injuries, such as a collapsed lung or a traumatic brain injury (TBI), than men. Researchers also found the following factors contributed to these results:

  • Seventy percent of women were driving passenger cars, compared with only 60 percent of men.
  • Twenty percent of men were driving pickup trucks versus only five percent of women.
  • Approximately the same number of men and women were driving minivans and SUVs.
  • Men were more likely to be driving the vehicle that hit the other car, whereas women were more likely to be driving the vehicle that was hit.
  • Even when men and women were both driving vehicles that were similar in size, women were twice as likely to suffer moderate injuries and slightly more likely to be seriously injured.

Fortunately for both male and female drivers, improved safety regulations, advanced safety technology, and the development of female-sized crash test dummies will make vehicles, roadways, and the testing process much safer for drivers, including female motorists who are at a higher risk for car wreck-related injuries. Prior to 2011, all crash test dummies were designed based on the average male body. The typical American male is five foot nine inches, whereas the average American woman is five foot four inches. When a vehicle is designed around the average male body, women are forced to sit closer to the steering wheel, which increases their risk for leg and chest injuries.

According to the data, men are more likely to suffer fatal injuries than women. However, when researchers adjusted the data for speed and analyzed it based on deaths per car wreck, women are still up to 28 percent more likely to be fatally injured, and up to 73 percent more likely to be seriously injured, compared with men. Oftentimes, front-to-rear wrecks involve female motorists who are hit by a larger vehicle, which can include a pickup truck. This is concerning because many pickup trucks do not come equipped with certain safety features that could prevent or reduce the severity of wreck, including automatic emergency braking (AEB). A study from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), which is an affiliate of the IIHS, found that vehicles equipped with AEB, forward collision warning (FCW), and lane-departure warning (LDW) can reduce injury claims by approximately 16 percent.

What Steps can Female Drivers Take to Avoid a Car Wreck?

Both male and female drivers can avoid being seriously injured in a car wreck by making safety a priority every time they get behind the wheel. That starts with making sure that they buckle their seat belt, whether they are driving, in the passenger seat, or in the back seat. However, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a female driver or front passenger who is wearing a seat belt is 17 percent more likely to be killed in a car wreck compared with a male. Another study from the University of Virginia found that a female’s chance of being injured in a frontal wreck is 73 percent greater than the odds for a vehicle occupant who is male.

In addition, when purchasing a new vehicle, it is highly recommended that motorists do their research and purchase a vehicle that comes equipped with advanced safety technology and has the best safety rating that they can afford. For example, female consumers are urged to choose a vehicle that performs well in crash tests, and that uses crash test dummies that are based on the average female body. In addition, because female drivers are more likely to be injured in front-to-rear wrecks, they should look for a vehicle that is equipped with AEB. According to the director of operations at Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center, the more vehicles that are equipped with safety features such as AEB, the safer the roadways are likely to be. When scoring new vehicles, Consumer Reports factors the crash protection ratings as well as the availability of advanced wreck avoidance technologies.

What Should Female Drivers Know About Vehicle Ratings?

IIHS researchers found that vehicles that had a Good rating in the moderate-overlap front and side crash tests reduced the odds of certain injuries for female drivers. In fact, in some cases, they were reduced more for women than for men. However, the research also suggests that additional studies are necessary to determine how to prevent injuries for which women are particularly susceptible, including leg injuries. In addition, the crashworthiness of smaller vehicles should be addressed, and improvements made. A female driver in a vehicle with a Good crash rating may be safer than a woman who is driving a car with a Marginal or Poor rating, but she may not be as safe as a man who is in a similar vehicle with a Good rating. According to Consumer Reports, one of the key factors that the research highlights is the need for crash test dummies to better represent female drivers who are being injured or killed more often than male drivers.

What Types of Injuries Do Side-Impact Wrecks Cause?

Side-impact wrecks, also known as T-bone accidents, occur when the front end of one vehicle crashes into the side of another vehicle, and female drivers are at an increased risk for these types of wrecks. Side-impact wrecks can cause serious, even life-threatening or fatal injuries, particularly if the motorist who hit the other vehicle was traveling at a high speed. Side-impact wrecks generally occur when one of the motorists involved was negligent. Some of the most common causes of side-impact wrecks include drunk driving, speeding, distracted driving, distracted driving, and running a red light. The following are examples of common injuries associated with side-impact or T-bone wrecks:

  • Concussion injuries
  • Whiplash, which is a neck injury that occurs when the force of the impact causes the head to snack back and forth
  • Broken bones in the hands, arms, legs, ribs, and face
  • Spinal cord injury, which can result in partial or total paralysis, spending on the location and severity of the injury

What Should I Do if I am Injured in a Car Wreck?

If a motorist is injured in a side-impact wreck, a front-into-rear wreck, or any other car wreck, he or she is urged to contact an experienced car wreck lawyer. A skilled lawyer can assist car wreck victims with the claims process, determine the damages he or she is entitled to receive, and take the necessary steps to secure the best possible settlement. In addition, experienced accident lawyers will handle the following:

  • Determine who is at fault for causing the car wreck.
  • Initiate the claims process in a timely fashion to ensure that it falls within the statute of limitations.
  • Obtain all of the evidence available that will help prove the defendant’s negligence and ensure that the client receives the compensation he or she deserves.
  • Manage all aspects of the case from start to finish.
  • Protect the client’s legal rights through every step of the claims process.
  • Ensure that the injured victim receives the maximum financial compensation for medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and all other costs associated with the injury.

Baltimore Car Wreck Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Car Wrecks

If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a car accident, you are urged to contact the Baltimore car wreck lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton at your earliest convenience. We will assist you with every step of the claims process and determine who is responsible for causing the wreck. Our dedicated legal team will address all your questions and concerns and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.