Canadian Underwriter

Do new cars reduce fatality for women in accidents?

August 19, 2022   by Alyssa DiSabatino

A blue car bumper is smashed

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Women are safer driving newer cars, a new report by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests.

Female fatality risk compared to male fatality risk is significantly reduced in newer vehicles, starting with model year 2000, the report finds.  

Further, the newer the vehicle, the safer for women. The overall gap between women’s and men’s fatality risk drops from 18% to 6.3% for 2010-20 vehicles models, and then down to only 2.9% for 2015-20 vehicles.   

Crash stats from a previous NHTSA report finds that although men are more likely to cause crashes, women are more likely to die in them. One report indicates 10,420 women died from motor vehicle crashes in 2019, and more than 1 million sustained injuries.  

A previous report in 2013 found aging increased a person’s fragility in an auto accident (likelihood of injury) and frailty (chance of dying). Young adult females are more fragile than males of the same age, the report found, but later in life women are less frail than their male contemporaries. 

In contrast, the latest NHTSA reports shows the estimated fatality risk for females relative to males is highest in younger ages, and the relative risk decreases for older ages. In the oldest age groups (65-96), female drivers have lower fatality risk than male drivers. 

“While NHTSA’s new report shows significant declines in differences in crash outcomes between women and men, there is more work required to eliminate any disparities that remain,” says NHTSA’s administrator Dr. Steven Cliff. 

The new report finds newer generations of cars equipped with dual air bags reduce the estimated fatality risk for women compared to men. When passenger and drivers use the most advanced seat belts found in newer vehicles, the estimated fatality risk for women relative to men drops to 6.1%. 

The estimated difference in fatality risk between the female and male front row occupants of a car is 6.3% for model year 2010-20 vehicles, which is significantly lower than 18.3% for model year 1960-2009 vehicles.  

The estimated difference is further reduced to 2.9% for the latest model year vehicles (2015-20).  

Vehicle type and impact type also affect the fatality risk level of females relative to males. 


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