Are Women More Likely to be Seriously Injured or Killed in a Car Accident?

women injuries accident

According to a new report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), women are more likely to suffer serious personal injury and fatalities than men when they are involved in a car accident. In addition, although men get into more car accidents, women are more likely to be seriously injured. The IIHS found that the increased risk is associated with the type of vehicles that women tend to drive and the circumstances of the accident rather than the physical differences between men and women.  Selecting a vehicle with a high safety rating can help reduce the risk of a serious car accident, including those that involve female motorists. If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident, you are urged to contact an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible.

What Gender Differences Did the IIHS Report Find?

Researchers with the IIHS analyzed police-reported accidents from 1998 to 2015 to determine why women are at a greater risk for car accident-related injuries than male drivers. According to the study results, women were three times more likely to suffer a concussion or a broken bone in a frontal collision than men. In addition, they were twice as likely to suffer a serious injury such as a collapsed lung or a traumatic brain injury (TBI) than male drivers. Researchers found that the increased risk of car accidents involving women is related to the fact that women tend to drive smaller, lighter cars than male drivers. The results showed that approximately 70 percent of women involved in traffic accidents were in cars, rather than larger vehicles such as trucks or SUVs, compared with 60 percent of men. In addition, roughly 20 percent of men were driving pickup trucks, compared with less than five percent of women. This is concerning since many popular pickup trucks are not equipped with advanced safety features such as automatic emergency braking that can help prevent or reduce the risk of an accident that is more likely to injure female drivers. Even when men and women were driving vehicles that were similar in size, women were more likely to suffer moderate and serious injuries than men.

Researchers also found that men tend to have collisions while driving heavier vehicles, which protects the male drivers while also causing more serious injuries to a female driver who is driving a smaller car. According to the vice president of vehicle research at the IIHS, in addition to driving smaller, lighter cars, women are more likely to be driving the vehicle that is hit in a side-impact or front-to-rear collision. The driver of the vehicle that is hit is more likely to suffer serious injuries, particularly when the striking vehicle is a pickup truck or an SUV. Ultimately, men engage in riskier driving behavior, accumulate more average miles driven than female drivers, and are injured in more car accidents overall, yet women are at a greater risk of being injured in accidents that men are likely to walk away from without a scratch.

What Changes are Being Made to Make Vehicles Safer for Female Drivers?

One issue that the IIHS study did not mention is the fact that most vehicles are designed using crash test dummies that represent the average male body. For years, automakers have argued that the average sized crash test dummies represent 95 percent of the driving population, and that designing a smaller dummy would be time consuming and cost prohibitive. However, according to the National Bureau of Standards, the average American man is five feet nine inches, whereas the average American woman is five foot four inches. In addition, female pelvises are wider and shallower compared with those of men. There are other, more subtle differences as well, including skeletal, tissue, and ligament differences, and fat distribution, all of which can impact the way the body reacts to the impact of a car accident. Fortunately, improved safety regulations, advances in safety technology, and testing with female-sized crash test dummies are making motor vehicles safer for all female drivers.

What Car Accident Injuries are More Common in Female Motorists?

Unfortunately, female drivers are at an increased risk for certain types of injuries, particularly if they are involved in a side-impact accident or if they are hit from behind. For example, side-impact collisions, also known as T-bone accidents, can cause whiplash; broken bones in the hands, arms, legs, ribs, and face; spinal cord injuries; and TBI. If the vehicle that struck the side of the car was traveling at a high speed, the resulting injuries can be particularly severe, even fatal.

Rear-end accidents are not usually as serious as side-impact collisions, but they can also cause a range of injuries, particularly if a vehicle was traveling at a high speed when it rear-ended the other car. The most common injuries associated with rear-end accidents include whiplash and neck injuries, arm and wrist injuries, broken ribs, and in extreme cases, skull and brain injuries.

In some cases, the deployment of the airbag can also cause injuries to female drivers. For the airbag to work properly, motorists must be seated at least 10 inches from the airbag cover on the steering wheel. However, because of their size and the way that the vehicle is designed, women are often forced to sit closer to the steering wheel and dashboard. If an accident occurs, causing the airbag to deploy, this can cause a range of injuries, including abrasions and lacerations; sprained or broken fingers; contusions to the chest, arms, and face; internal bleeding; and head injuries. Even if the airbag does not deploy, female motorists are at an increased risk for leg and chest injuries when they are positioned too close to the steering wheel and dashboard.

What can I Do to Avoid a Car Accident?

There are a number of proactive steps that female drivers can take to reduce the risk of being injured in a car accident. First and foremost, all drivers must obey the rules of the road and make safety a top priority at all times. That means following the posted speed limit; avoiding distractions such as talking or texting while driving; and always wearing a seat belt, even if you are a backseat passenger.  In addition, when purchasing a new vehicle, do your research and make sure that the vehicle you are considering comes equipped with advanced safety technology and that it has a high safety rating. According to IIHS researchers, vehicles that had an IIHS Good rating in the moderate-overlap front and side crash tests reduced the risk of certain types of injuries in female motorists. However, additional research is needed to determine how certain injuries, such as leg trauma, can be prevented. A female motorist who is driving a vehicle that has a Good crash test rating may be safer than a female motorist who is driving a car with a Poor rating. However, she may not be as safe driving a car with a Good rating as a man who is driving the same vehicle with the same Good rating.  Female consumers are urged to choose vehicles that performed well in crash tests that used crash test dummies based on the average female body. The vehicle should also be equipped with automatic emergency braking (AEB), since female drivers are more likely to be injured in a front-to-rear car accident.

How Do I Prove Fault if I am in a Car Accident?

To determine who is at fault for causing an accident, all motorists should take the following steps:

  • Call 911 so dispatch can send police to the scene of the accident. If there were injuries, emergency medical technicians will also be notified. The officer will fill out a police report, which may identify which driver caused the accident.
  • Collect as much evidence from the accident scene as possible, including pictures of the vehicles, your injuries, skid marks on the road, weather conditions, and copies of video surveillance if the accident occurred near a store or private property that has security cameras. If there were witnesses who saw the accident happen, ask if they would be willing to provide a statement and ask for their contact information.
  • Contact an experienced car accident lawyer who can assist you with the claims process; protect your legal rights; and recover the financial damages to which you are entitled, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and all other costs associated with the injury.

Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Injured Female Motorists

If you were injured in a car accident, you are urged to contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. We will work closely with you to determine the cause of the accident and who is liable for your injuries. Our dedicated legal team will conduct a thorough investigation, assist you with every step of the claims process, and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve. Protecting your rights is our top priority, and we will not stop fighting for you until you are completely satisfied. 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.