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Lives of women and older drivers are being ‘gambled with’, claims the AA

The lives of women and older drivers are being ‘gambled’ with as the Government delays new safety measures for car manufacturers, the AA claims.

From July, new vehicle models in Northern Ireland and the European Union will be required to be fitted with new safety features.

They will have to have head-on collision protection – such as airbags and seatbelts – which ‘does not disadvantage women and older people’.

The features are part of a wider-package of EU car safety measures, including a device to prevent a drunk driver from starting an engine and intelligent speed assistance, a system which nudges motorists to observe the prevailing speed limit. 

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The package of safety measures was developed with the help of British experts and was finalised while Britain was still in the EU. 

But because they are being phased in they do not automatically apply to Britain.

Despite polls showing support for the new measures in the UK, and experts also backing the features, the UK Government currently has no plans to adopt the rule in Great Britain.

That has led to criticism from motoring groups, who say the measures could protect women and older drivers. 

The lives of women and older drivers are being gambled with as the Government delays safety measures for car manufacturers, the AA claims [File photo]

Why are women more likely to be seriously injured in a car crash? 

The issue of sexism in road safety has been long discussed. 

Back in 2011, a study by the University of Virginia Centre for Applied Biomechanics revealed that female drivers involved in car crashes were 47 per cent more likely to fall victim to a serious injury or death than their male counterparts.

According to the research, women’s legs were most at risk, with women 80 per cent more likely to suffer serious injury to their legs than male drivers.

This, experts suggest, is because women tend to sit further forward when driving in order to reach the pedals as their legs are typically shorter and they often need to sit more upright to see clearly over the dashboard. 

Women are also at greater risk of whiplash in rear-end collisions due to having less muscle in their necks and upper torsos than men. 

But testing has also been blamed too. Crash test dummies are usually tested on the body of an average man.

This was because, at the time European crash test dummies were designed, 76 per cent of road deaths were men. 

Using a male 50th percentile dummy allowed testers to ensure that assessments would relate to the largest proportion of accident victims. 

But new research, such as the University of Virginia Centre for Applied Biomechanics, has helped to increase calls for female crash test dummies. In the US, female crash test dummies have been used in testing since 2011.

And as part of the new EU rules, car makers will have to have head-on collision protection – such as airbags and seatbelts – which ‘does not disadvantage women and older people’.

Women are almost 50 per cent more likely to be seriously injured than men in road accidents, research has shown. 

That is because cars are usually tested on dummies that represent the average male. 

Airbags and seatbelts also normally provide less protection for women. This, experts suggest, is because women tend to sit further forward when driving in order to reach the pedals as their legs are typically shorter and they often need to sit more upright to see clearly over the dashboard. 

Women are also at greater risk of whiplash in rear-end collisions due to having less muscle in their necks and upper torsos than men. 

Luke Bosdet, of the AA, said Britain risked falling behind the rest of Europe and would end up with a ‘massive hole’ in road safety if the rules were not formally introduced.

He said ‘our best hope’ was that British-based manufacturers such as Nissan, Toyota, BMW and Jaguar Land Rover may introduce the measures anyway due to the logistics of creating two production lines for two sets of regulations.

Six former transport ministers have urged Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to adopt the rules, saying they would prevent more than 200 deaths a year and 1,000 serious injuries.

The Department for Transport told The Sunday Times it was considering the measures and ‘will implement requirements that are appropriate for Great Britain and improve road safety’.

The issue of sexism in road safety has been long discussed. 

Back in 2011, a study by the University of Virginia Centre for Applied Biomechanics revealed that female drivers involved in car crashes were 47 per cent more likely to fall victim to a serious injury or death than their male counterparts.

According to the research, women’s legs were most at risk, with women 80 per cent more likely to suffer serious injury to their legs than male drivers.

This, experts suggest, is because women tend to sit further forward when driving in order to reach the pedals as their legs are typically shorter and they often need to sit more upright to see clearly over the dashboard. 

Women are also at greater risk of whiplash in rear-end collisions due to having less muscle in their necks and upper torsos than men. 

But testing has also been blamed too. Crash test dummies are usually tested on the body of an average man. 

Women are also at greater risk of whiplash in rear-end collisions due to having less muscle in their necks and upper torsos than men [File photo]

Women are also at greater risk of whiplash in rear-end collisions due to having less muscle in their necks and upper torsos than men [File photo]

This was because, at the time European crash test dummies were designed, 76 per cent of road deaths were men. 

Using a male 50th percentile dummy allowed testers to ensure that assessments would relate to the largest proportion of accident victims. 

But new research, such as the University of Virginia Centre for Applied Biomechanics, has helped to increase calls for female crash test dummies. In the US, female crash test dummies have been used in testing since 2011.

And as part of the new EU rules, car makers will have to have head-on collision protection – such as airbags and seatbelts – which ‘does not disadvantage women and older people’.


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