Oct. 8 - Swedish researchers have produced a crash test dummy to represent the average female, in a bid to reduce the numbers of women receiving whiplash injuries in road accidents. According to a recent Swedish study, women are twice as likely as men to suffer such injuries when hit from behind, but the standard crash test dummy is almost exclusively based on the average male. Jim Drury has more.
It's a crash test dummy with a difference - this one's female, which is rare, and its creator hopes it will help reduce whiplash injuries in women. The term whiplash describes a range of neck injuries caused by a sudden distortion. Sufferers can endure long-lasting pain. A recent study by Swedish insurance company Folksam suggests women are at double the risk of suffering the condition as men. Yet safety tests tend to use dummies based on the average male. Anna Carlsson, of Gothenburg's Chalmers University of Technology, wants that to change. SOUNDBITE (Swedish) FEMALE CRASH TEST DUMMY DEVELOPER ANNA CARLSSON SAYING: "What we have done now is develop a dummy that's the size of an average woman which also moves, in a crash situation with the impact coming from behind." Before producing her model she tested women in a rigged-up car seat at low speeds. Most whiplash injuries occur at speeds of below 25 kilometres an hour. She conducted similar trials on men. Her investigation revealed distinct differences. SOUNDBITE (Swedish) FEMALE CRASH TEST DUMMY DEVELOPER ANNA CARLSSON SAYING: "We've seen, for example, that the back of a seat doesn't flex as much for the woman, which means that she'll start moving forward quicker and have a more rapid acceleration in that direction." After analysing initial results Carlsson's team produced a computational model called EvaRID to establish the average body type of a female. They then took a real test crash dummy - based on the male form - and adapted it accordingly. SOUNDBITE (Swedish) FEMALE CRASH TEST DUMMY DEVELOPER ANNA CARLSSON SAYING: "What we've done here, as you can see, is to cut off arms and legs. We've shortened them and carved out some of the interior to decrease the weight. Then we've pieced her back together. ... We've also shortened the spine and made the torso smaller and lighter. We've peeled off the rubber front of the head to reduce the weight." Comparing both dummies in tests, the female model demonstrated higher acceleration and quicker motion when hit from behind. Carlsson says this suggests women have greater motion in their spines than men, as well as different sized and angled vertebra. Part-funded by European Union project Adseat, Carlsson's dummy is still in the prototype stage. An improved version is planned. Carlsson hopes to persuade car-makers to incorporate the average body size of both sexes into their safety systems before producing all new vehicles.