Safety advocates want gender gap addressed in car safety testing

Crash test ratings outdated 102219
Posted at 12:14 PM, Apr 12, 2022

The New Car Assessment Program, or NCAP, lets you compare the safety of new cars.

The star ratings show everything from how well a car protects you in a crash to rollover resistance.

There’s a proposal to update the rating program, but some advocates are concerned the proposal doesn't address the existing gender gap in car safety testing.

“Most of us think when we go buy a car and it says it has a 5 NCAP star rating, there's a presumption that that's for women also. And to me, there's no excuse for treating men and women differently,” said Susan Molinari at Verity now.

The proposal calls for updating male crash test dummies, but it doesn't include a dummy representative for all women.

Currently, tests are done on a smaller version of a male dummy or with a computer simulation.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acknowledges that women face a 17% higher risk on average of dying in a crash.

Research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety finds newer cars are doing a better job of protecting both men and women, but disparities still exist.

“Women are getting injured more with their arms and their legs. While these injuries may not be life-threatening, they most certainly are life altering, both in terms of capabilities of one of one's body, as well as potential mental health implications that could result from these types of injuries,” said Cathy Chase at Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

More than 60 members of Congress recently sent a letter to the Transportation Secretary asking him to require up-to-date female crash test dummies to be used in the new car assessment program.

The NCAP ratings also show the recommended safety technology that's in the car.

NHTSA is proposing to add blind spot detection, blind spot intervention, lane-keeping support and pedestrian automatic emergency braking.

“The Advanced Driver Assistance technologies are going to work, irrespective of who is in the vehicle so that is going to help either to avoid or to mitigate the collisions. The drawback, however, is that the improvement that's being proposed for NCAP will not actually incorporate those at this point in time into the rating, it will only be a checkbox,” said Shaun Kildare at Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

NHTSA says the new car assessment program has improved safety for both men and women.

The new infrastructure law requires a study of how crash-test dummies are used in car safety tests.

A report on that is required within a year.

You can comment on the proposed safety rating update until May 9th on the Federal Register website.