NHTSA to Introduce New Female Crash Test Dummy

Modern crash test dummies have advanced features that account for different body types and genders, but government regulators have been slow to adopt the technology.

1 minute read

March 22, 2024, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Close-up of crash test dummy in orange jumpsuit leaning over steering wheel with Volkswagen logo.

Frank / Adobe Stock

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will introduce a new type of crash test dummy to make car safety tests more effective for female drivers and passengers, according to a report from Clara McMichael, Sam Sweeney, Doug Vollmayer, and Gio Benitez for ABC 7. “One 2019 study published in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention found that women are 73% more likely to be seriously injured in a crash compared to men.”

The move is a response to a 2023 report from the Government Accountability Office which stated that “currently used dummies represent a limited range of body sizes, do not reflect some physiological differences between males and females, and do not have sensors to collect data in the lower legs.” Newer dummies have more advanced features that can predict and prevent injuries more common in women. The NHTSA is working to adopt a new dummy that “is similar in size and weight to the current dummy, but has features of female anatomy-breasts, a female pelvic bone-and more sensors to predict injuries, according to [manufacturer] Humanetics.”

The article notes that “Even if NHTSA does approve the THOR-5F this fall, it will take years before the next-generation female dummy is introduced in crash testing while automakers adjust to the new rules.”

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