ICC Urges NHTSA to Inform Consumers that Crash Testing Doesn’t Count Every Body

Estimated 1,342 women, 1,600+ young adults and elderly die each year due to outdated crash testing procedures and equipment

In response to a NHTSA request for comment, the ICC submitted a letter urging the agency to consider inequities in its 5-Star Safety Ratings system. 

While significant strides have been made in adding technologies to vehicles that help prevent crashes, we haven’t made the same advancements when it comes to testing how well the occupants of vehicles are protected when they crash.

The ICC comment points out that government mandates related to crash testing are outdated and inequitable, and as a result we are losing thousands of lives needlessly every year.  Disparities in testing mean that some consumers – mainly non-overweight males – may be accounted for accurately by the 5-Star Safety Ratings program.  But many of us – namely women, elderly, young and obese people – are not accurately assessed for crash test risk, and therefore not accurately reflected in this program.   

For example, more than 8,500 American women were killed in car crashes in 2018.  A majority of them (61%) were in the driver’s seat.  In addition, that same year, over one million women were injured in car crashes; 76% of these women located in the driver’s seat.  But NHTSA’s current crash test regime does not require testing female dummies in the driver’s seat.

Many of those injuries and deaths would be preventable if testing required vehicle manufacturers to design and test vehicles with every body in mind.  Unfortunately, this is not yet the case. 

Overall, NHTSA data show women are 17%-18.5% more likely to die in a vehicle crash than men. That means up to 1,342 women are needlessly dying every year. In addition, these data show we are losing more than 1,600 young adults and elderly people every year to crashes who need not die.[1] 

To see the entire comment, click here.


[1] Source: National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, “Fatality Analysis Reporting System,” Accessed March 2020.