The Sunday Times last weekend (13 March 2022) reported that although women are nearly 50% more likely to be seriously injured and 17% more likely to die than men in car crashes, the government has no plans to introduce rules which would make it compulsory for new cars to include frontal impact protection “which does not disadvantage women and older people”.

The measures will be enforced across the European Union and Northern Ireland from 6 July 2022, but not in England, Wales or Scotland.

This means that half the population can only buy new vehicles potentially designed to protect only the other half.

This sounds very similar to issues in health research and treatment, where in many cases, women are treated as smaller versions of men without taking into account specific differences between them, which can lead to women being wrongly diagnosed and treated, or not diagnosed in the first place.

The problem stems from the fact that crash test dummies do not represent the size, shape and weight of the “average woman”.  The female dummy used is often 4’11” in height and weighs 7st 6 lbs.  The “average woman” is 5’ 4” and weighs 9st 11lb.  Speaking personally, all I can say is “I wish..” as there are plenty of women who are not “average”.   Male dummies come in two sizes;  5’ 9” and 12 st 1 lb as “average and  6’2” an 16st 1lb for larger men.  I expect there are men who do not conform precisely to this either, but at least they get a choice of two!

Women have long had to put up with the problem of trying to drive cars where the pedals are miles away from where our legs end.  We also have to sit more forward and more upright to see over the dashboard.  Many women can forget driving more sporty models, as you can do neither.  It is not unusual to see women driving using cushions and back supports.

Women also suffer more with whiplash injuries as we do not have the same muscle in our necks and upper torso as men.

The new rules would require airbags and seatbelts to be re-configured to protect everyone equally. I am only 5’ tall and I am convinced I would be strangled by a seatbelt in a crash rather than protected because of how the seatbelt is fixed and sits across me.  So something there to protect me could actually cause me injury or worse.  I am sure I am not alone in this.

A Department for Transport spokesperson was quoted as saying:

“ The UK’s departure from the EU provides us with the platform to capitalise on our current regulatory freedoms. We are currently considering the vehicle safety provisions….and will implement requirements that are appropriate for Great Britain and improve road safety”

I don’t buy this. If it is appropriate for women in EU countries, I do not see how it cannot be appropriate for women everywhere.  The government’s “regulatory freedoms” could be risking women’s lives.  And statistics from the AA in a poll of over 15,000 show that 81% agree with me in that they said safety features should be equal for all.  Listen to the public, government.

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