Have you ever heard the term “girl car”? This refers to cars that have smaller structures, rounded features, and features that market research appeals more to women. An example of this is bigger cup holders in many minivans and the new Volkswagon Beetle went as far as putting in a dashboard vase for flowers.
These features are important to car makers because research shows that women are involved and 80% of all car purchases in the United States and 60% of all final decisions in purchasing vehicles. With this kind of influence it’s no wonder car manufacturers pander things women find important. However, the top thing that women find important on the list of needs is safety.
The issue of safety as a marketing tool is not new to the car industry, but it has only been in the last two decades that the car industry has been voluntarily attempting to out do each other with safety features, knowing that safety sells cars. Yet, research is coming out now that cars being safe for children or occupants may not include specifically women. Moreover, cars may be designed more for men despite their bigger cup holders or other female-focused features.
Women and Car Accidents
Through the years there have been numerous studies focusing on the differences between the way men and women drive and the outcome. It may come as no surprise that young men are considered some of the most dangerous things on the road because of their propensity to speed, take risks, and drink and drive. Yet, injuries amongst women remains disproportional.
Researchers have set out to seek answers to the impropriety in personal injuries. Reporting in the American Journal of Public Health have disputed the behavioral causes of women and injuries. They say another explanation could be the design of safety features. They suggest that women are more likely to sustain injuries in an auto accident because safety features are designed more with men in mind, a new study that was a joint effort between University of Virginia and Navarra University in Spain has said.
Combing through a decade of data about US motor vehicle accidents, three researchers found the odds of serious injury for female drivers wearing seat belts were 47% higher than those of men in a comparable mishap.
The study says that women face a higher risk of injuries from seat belt configurations due to the lower extremities because of their shorter stature. They also say that the positioning of head restraints fails to take into account how women’s necks are different in size and strength.
To address such sex-specific disparity, “health policies and vehicle regulations must focus on effective safety designs specifically tailor toward the female population for equity in injury reduction,” the researchers said.
Car Accident Injuries and Women
Shoulder Injuries – Women are more prone to shoulder injuries in car accidents. Side impact tests have shown that the armrest in many cars are level with the bumper of many normal sized cars on the road. This puts the impact on the elbow and lower humerus causing a lever effect that can pop the shoulder out. Truck bumpers are much higher and can cause a direct hit on the shoulder causing much more damage in women.
According to Dr. Bridget Quinn, physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, “Men are stronger up top than women. The combination of not having strong shoulder muscles, including the rotator cuff and periscapular muscles, and having loose supporting tissues can lead to instability in the shoulder.”
Knee Injuries – Women are more flexible than men and thus their ligaments are not as taught. This can lead to a condition known as “miserable malalignment,” which weakens their kneecaps and weakness in their inner quadricep and pelvic muscles. In a front end or side impact accident a serious rotation injury can occur causing serious damage to the joint and possible permanent damage. Knee injuries are extremely common in car accidents.
Stress Fractures – A head on auto accident can cause a stress fracture as people tend to tense and straighten their legs right before impact. Women have a lower bone density, thus they are more prone to fracture as the bone bends. A stress fracture resulting in a leg injury from a car accident can trigger a life long concern for re-injury in women, particularly those that lead highly active lifestyles.
Pelvic Injuries – During a car accident pelvic injuries are most related to seat belts. Seat belts will save a person’s life, so always wear one, no exceptions, but in a car accident there is also a chance for injury caused by the seat belt. In the event of a pelvic fracture this can also lead to internal bleeding. After an accident women should be monitored and aware that pelvic splintering and internal injuries are a real danger even days after.
Osteoporosis Related Injuries – Osteoporosis is a disease that causes a progressive decrease in bone density. Bones are porous and the pores get larger and larger causing the bones to be brittle and fragile. Women occupy the vast majority of the osteoporosis patients at over 80%. This is very common for women to have after menopause and can get worse as they age. In a car accident osteoporosis renders women far more prone to serious injury than their younger female counterparts and men in general.
Seattle Personal Injury Lawyer
Some may speculate that smaller individuals are naturally more prone to injury because of lower muscle mass, thus a prevalence of injury is to be expected. But design definitely an issue. This is demonstrated by the research done in how children fit in child seats and how they need adjustable configurations to compensate for their size. This is particularly true with regards to where and how the seatbelt sits on their lap.
Perhaps seatbelt configuration is first place car companies need to look for adjustments for designing a real “girl car” that not only has the amenities, but also safety suited specifically for women.
Women experiencing personal injuries from a car accident may have more to lose also due to internal injuries to reproductive organs hampering their life long dream to have children and a family. These and all other types of injuries deserve compensation. If you or someone you know gets injured in a car accident you need an experienced representative to deal with the insurance companies to assure you the best settlement. Call the Seattle car accident attorneys at Phillips Law Firm for a free consultation.