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Study suggests seat belts protect men better than women

Seat belts save thousands of lives in Tennessee and around the country each year, but a study published recently in a leading road safety journal suggests that they do not offer as much protection in a front-end crash to women as they do to men. A team of academics from the University of Virginia analyzed more than 20,000 front-end collisions that took place over a 17-year period, and they found that women wearing seat belts suffered injuries far more often than men who were buckled up.

The researchers studied the data closely and took the age, height and weight of the vehicle occupants into consideration. They also sorted accidents by their severity and the age of the cars involved. The research team discovered that a woman is 73% more likely to suffer an injury in a front-end collision that a man, and they also found that serious injuries to the legs, abdomen and spine were twice as common among female accident victims. The study was published in Traffic Injury Protection on July 10.

The crash test dummies used by auto manufacturers during car accident testing could help to explain why seat belts do not offer the same crash protection to women as they do to men. These dummies were designed in the 1960s using the physiques of male soldiers as a guide, and smaller versions of the dame dummies are used to determine how women would fare in a crash. This means that the data gathered does not reflect the differences between male and female bodies.

Experienced personal injury attorneys may look for studies like this one when the clients they represent in car accident lawsuits were not buckled up when they were injured. In these situations, the negligent motorists who caused the crash might argue that damages should be lowered because the plaintiff acted negligently by not fastening their seat belt. However, this kind of research may be able to convince juries that injuries would have been severe even if a seat belt had been fastened.

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