In our last post, we began a discussion about crash test dummies. In many senses, these dummies are invaluable because they help researchers to determine both the potential human consequences of being involved in an accident and the crash worthiness of vehicles in various impact scenarios. However, outdated crash test dummies may be causing more harm than good.
In essence, the bodies of crash test dummies do not accurately reflect a large portion of the population that travels by motor vehicle. As a result, the survivability predictions that safety advocates make when testing vehicles in accident scenarios are flawed, because the dummies being used only demonstrate the impact that accidents will have on a relatively small segment of the population.
For example, if a vehicle model is being tested to determine how a driver's neck and spine will be affected in a crash, but the only adult dummy being tested is meant to represent a fit, 5'11'' male, the outcome of this test will only be accurately applied to the segment of the population that fits that description.
It is because crash test dummy representations and testing standards are outdated that there is such a large disconnect between the numbers of individuals expected to survive auto accidents and the number of Americans who actually do. When crash test dummy standards are finally reformed, it may initially seem like American vehicles are far less safe than the general population has been led to believe. However, by obtaining an accurate representation of how safe vehicles actually are, experts can truly start brainstorming on how to make them safer.
Source: Claims Journal, "Outdated Crash Test Dummies Blamed for Continued Auto Fatalities," Denise Johnson, Dec. 18, 2012