Car crash-test dummies may help demonstrate how well vehicles withstand hazards, but safety advocates argue current models aren’t doing enough to protect typical American drivers. The group Verity Now, Vehicle Equity Rules in Transportation, is urging the Biden Administration to bring equity and equality to the government’s 5-star safety rating program.
The advocate group, which is co-chaired by a former GOP member of Congress, is urging Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to require more diversity in the use of crash test dummies. In a letter sent to the secretary this week, the group argued it’s a matter of life and death.
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“Government standards for vehicle crash testing are outdated and unequal, causing thousands of women to be needlessly killed and injured every year,” said former Congresswoman Susan Molinari, co-chair of VERITY NOW. In an interview with FOX on Wednesday, Molinari insisted the public was likely unaware how many government tests rely on a male-shaped dummy first developed in the 1970s. Verity Now’s letter was co-signed by a large group of notable Washington insiders including former Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).
Read the letter to Secretary Buttigieg here.
“Women are significantly more prone to whiplash in a crash. Relative to males of the same age, females in deadly crashes were 9.4% more likely to die as a result of neck injury,” according to the letter sent by Verity Now. The group argues if the Biden administration is truly committed to diversity and equity – it would order the government to require all crash tests involve a variety of dummy shapes and sizes.
Former Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, with new crash test dummies in a file photo. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration insists it is using a variety of dummies on many of its tests.
“Safety is central to NHTSA’s mission and we are committed to improving safety for all road users. NHTSA does use a female crash test dummy in our compliance frontal testing program,” said a spokesperson for the NHTSA.
The government provided FOX a breakdown of which tests are using female body types in tests. Activists say they’re glad some female dummies are used but argue they should always be tested in the driver position, as opposed to passenger or rear passenger assignments.
The government admits it also working to expand testing capabilities to adapt to a wider range of drivers.
“NHTSA is working to develop crash simulation and human body models to represent a wide range of occupant size, sex, and ages. These tools will be used to identify targets for future safety efforts,” the agency spokesman said.