Women

The gender gap in car safety leaves women at risk

Car safety belt
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Cars are safer than they've ever been thanks to new life-saving features, yet women face a much higher risk than men of being seriously injured or killed in a crash, a new study finds.

The big picture: Most vehicle safety tests are conducted using male crash test dummies. But designing safety systems to protect the "average male" leaves everyone else more vulnerable. In the race to develop self-driving cars, some safety advocates worry the danger women face in today's vehicles could be pushed aside to focus on AV safety.

Volvo takes the lead on female safety

Virtual female crash test dummy for Volvo cars
A digital representation of a virtual female crash test dummy. Photo: Volvo Cars

Volvo Cars is taking the gender safety gap seriously. In March, the Swedish carmaker announced it will share 40 years of safety research with other automakers as part of its E.V.A. Initiative, or Equal Vehicles for All.

Why it matters: Cars should protect everyone — not just the average male, says Volvo, which has been redesigning some of its cars' safety systems to better protect women based on its own evidence that women are at higher risk for injury than men.