Monday, April 15, 2024
HomeworldWomen in the driver's seat with female crash test dummy

Women in the driver's seat with female crash test dummy

LINKOPING (Sweden) — Her name is SET 50F and she’s the world’s first female crash test dummy, designed by a Swedish engineer to help make sure women are better protected in cars.

A screen shows the body moving in slow motion at the moment of impact, the mannequin’s chest visibly distinguishing it from a standard male crash test dummy.

“The muscles in the neck are normally weaker in a woman,” says Professor Tommy Petterson, one of Dr Linder’s colleagues at VTI, pointing to the nape of the dummy’s neck, deformed by the impact. 

“If you compare it with a male dummy, this neck is more flexible and has more movement.”  

NARROW SHOULDERS, WIDE HIPS

Tested in Sweden in late 2022, the female prototype made of rubber, metal and plastic is fitted with 24 sensors, measures 162cm and weighs 62kg. That is 15cm and 15kg fewer than a male crash test dummy.  

Her shoulders are also narrower and her hips wider.

These differences, as well as a lower centre of gravity, play an important role in evaluating the risks women face in a car accident.

“For non-fatal injuries which can lead to disabilities, statistics show that the factor that always stands out is the difference between men and women,” Dr Linder told AFP. 

“The resulting suffering can last a lifetime. It is essential to establish how everyone can be protected.”  

According to a 2019 study from the University of Virginia in the United States, women are 73 per cent more likely than men to be injured in the event of a frontal collision.

They are also twice as likely to suffer whiplash injuries in an accident because of the morphology of their necks and the design of neck supports in cars.

‘EXCLUDING FEMALES’

Dr Linder’s female dummy, developed with subsidies from the European Commission, is already being used by some carmakers, including Volvo in Sweden.

But there are no international regulations requiring manufacturers to do so.

“In the regulation it says you have to use the model of an average man for all the testing, full stop,” lamented Dr Linder, who also teaches auto engineering.

She was honoured earlier this year with a prize celebrating women’s contributions to the auto industry. But the market has yet to pick up speed. 

“In our society and culture, for a long time we focused on keeping men safe in vehicles because initially that’s how the culture was. It was predominantly men that were driving,” explained Ms Emily Thomas, head of automobile testing at the US non-profit organisation Consumer Reports. 

“And even though the culture shifted, unfortunately the safety innovations didn’t shift along with it,” she said.

Dr Linder urged legislators to get on board.

“We are aiming for a sustainable society and an inclusive society, and we have legislation which is excluding females at the moment,” she said.

She hopes to make more copies of SET 50F to spread the word around the world. AFP

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