New research from J.D. Power & Associates has found that women sustain more injuries in vehicle crashes than men. Based on per-crash data, women are significantly more likely to sustain a severe injury, particularly to the legs, than their male counterparts. Additionally, women have a 20-to-28% greater chance of dying in a car crash. They also have a 37-to-73% greater likelihood of being seriously injured in a crash.

Front and Side Impacts

In frontal-impact crashes, women were three times more likely to suffer a moderate injury. Common examples include a concussion or broken bone. Women were twice as likely to sustain serious injuries, such as a traumatic brain injury or internal injury to vital organs.

When it comes to side-impact crashes, men and women sustain about equal amounts of moderate injuries. However, women were 50% more likely to be seriously injured than men when it comes to side impact hits.

The study analyzed crash data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) between the years 1998 to 2005. They selected collisions serious enough to require a police report and a tow truck. A similar report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated that a female drivers (or front passengers) have a 17% greater chance of being killed than men.

Heavier Vehicles Offer More Protection

The study also found that men are more likely to drive heavier vehicles. That includes pickup trucks or larger SUVs. Those models provide superior crash protection than the smaller, lighter vehicles typically favored by women. Heavier vehicles move with greater force, negatively impacting lighter cars in a collision. Bigger vehicles also offer more distance from the point of impact to the passenger cabin, helping to absorb more energy from a crash.

The study concluded that more research is needed to ensure that engineers consider the breadth of human sizes and shapes to keep the majority of the public safe in automotive crashes. An easy example of this is to conduct more crash tests with dummies that in line with the height/size/shape of the average North American female driver. Ensuring that smaller bodies are still protected in crashes remains an important part of driving safety.


Devon is a writer, editor, and veteran of the online publishing world. He has a particular love for classic muscle cars.