For decades automakers have been fighting regulators that have looked to set a higher standard for safety in the cars we drive. In 2010, automakers were finally forced to incorporate female crash dummies in frontal crash tests, even though legislation requiring female dummies was originally passed over four decades ago in the 1960s. According to a new report on Boston.com, automakers vehemently fought a mandate to use female crash dummies, stating the time and cost to create them was too extensive.
The original regulation, backed by Ralph Nader and other consumer advocates, took into account the idea of the “second collision.” This was not the initial impact of the car crashing, but essentially the impact of the drivers and passengers slamming into the car’s interior surfaces. The idea was, men and women have different body types, and are of a different height and weight. The head of a taller passenger would strike a different part of the interior than that of a shorter person, and so on. Automakers were to use two different crash test dummies that were to represent the extremes; A 95 percentile male, or a man bigger than 95 percent of the male population, and a five percentile female, or a female only bigger than five percent of women.
But automakers, fearing the escalating costs that would ensue with researching and developing safer interiors for such a variety of potential drivers, fought regulators tooth and nail. “Although marketers had begun to account for the tastes of women as potential consumers well before the 1960s, many automakers claimed that considering women’s health in engineering was too radical.” Eventually automakers were awarded the right to test based on the “average” male, only. While a female version has been used for a couple of years now, you have to wonder if the outcome of countless accidents through the decades could often have been different for female drivers.