Influential crash conditions leading to injury differences experienced by female and male drivers

Elsevier, Journal of Transport and Health, Volume 24, March 2022
Ryan A., Knodler M.

Introduction: Robust occupant protection is critical for the longevity and quality of life of the diverse driving population. Studies have shown that the vehicle crash testing process has greatly assisted in decreasing the severity of injuries experienced by occupants. However, female occupants are not equitably accounted for in the current testing processes while experiencing a significantly increased risk of higher severity injuries compared to male occupants in comparable crash conditions. Given the increased safety concern for female occupants, it is critical to investigate the conditions that result in injuries occurring in specific locations in cases of female occupants compared to male occupants. Methods: In this study, an investigation is made to uncover potential influential crash conditions that lead to injury location differences experienced by female and male drivers using a novel linked dataset of emergency medical services and crash data. Logistic regression methods were used to develop robust analyses. Results: The results revealed that female and male drivers experience injuries in different locations to a significant degree depending upon vehicle model year, airbag deployment, and driver age when considering all crash types. The results included the finding that as vehicle model year increases, neck injury risk decreases for male drivers while it increases for female drivers. Conclusions: This study highlighted the crash conditions and vehicle components that lead to different injury outcomes for female and male drivers. From a policy perspective, the results emphasize the importance of including both representative female and male anthropometry in vehicle testing and design. From a practitioner and research perspective, this study provides the data needed to understand the components of vehicle design that must be further considered to provide optimal occupant protection for the entire driving population, leading to more equitable, positive long-term health outcomes for all drivers.