Doll to protect women from whiplash
Women run a three times higher risk for whiplash accidents than men. Now Swedish scientists are developing a female “crash doll” which will help women get as good a protection against whiplash as men. Whiplash is commonly associated with motor vehicle accidents, usually when the vehicle has been hit in the rear; however, the injury can be sustained in many other ways. That women run a higher risk of whiplash has to do with the fact that most front seats in cars are developed to fit an average man. Also, the strain and movements in the neck is tougher for women in an accident as women in general have weaker neck muscles than men. Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and VTI (the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute) are now developing the “crash doll” for car tests. The doll equals an average woman in height and weight. This is a continuation of a project with a “crash doll” that researchers at Chalmers developed already at the end of the 1990’s. That doll became a world standard and was used in traffic safety organizations in Europe as well as the US and Japan. Now however, another step has been taken.
“We need to adjust more precisely the curve of the spine and the seat,” says Anna Carlsson, Ph D and researcher at Chalmers. “Studies show that women sit more upright than men, with the head closer to the head rest.” The researchers hope than consumer organizations, carmakers, and factories making the seats to cars will be interested. “Our hope is that we get seats in the car that are as safe for women as they are for men,” says Mats Svensson, project leader and Professor at Chalmers. Should the women’s risk for whiplash decrease to the level of men’s then Sweden would save several hundreds of million SEK every year, according to the researchers’ calculations.