It's called EVA, or SET 50F, and was designed to finally keep women behind the wheel safe. Developed by Astrid Linder at the Swedish Institute for Transport Safety Research (VTI), this new female crash test dummy has been in the test phase since the end of 2022 and represents a real step forward for gender equality in road safety. Indeed, safety tests were until now carried out thanks to dummies representing average men - according to the legislation of the automotive sector since the 1970s - not designed for female morphologies.
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This new prototype is currently being tested in a warehouse in Linköping, southwest of Stockholm. Composed of rubber, metals and plastic, it is equipped with 24 sensors and corresponds to the morphology of an average woman: 1.62 m for 62 kg, 15 cm and 15 kg less than for a typical male model. Another difference: his shoulders and hips are less wide. "The distribution of the mass is different in the bust, which is reflected in a lower center of gravity in women than in men," says Astrid Linder, as reported by AFP.
Women more exposed
Although crash tests have always been carried out on male dummies, statistics show that women - who now make up 49% of drivers - are more exposed to risks in the event of an accident. According to a 2019 study by the University of Virginia in the United States, they are 73% more likely than men to be injured in the event of a frontal collision and would be twice as likely to suffer from whiplash in the event of an accident, especially because of the morphology of their neck and the support offered by the seat.
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"The neck muscles are generally weaker in a woman so if we compare with a male crash test dummy, we see here that the neck is more flexible, that there is more movement if we drive exactly the same test, at the same speed and with the same acceleration," says engineer Tommy Pettersson for AFP. The goal is to make it possible to make better seats for men and women. That's why we created a man and a woman."
"For non-fatal injuries, which can cause disability, statistics show that the factor that is always decisive is the difference between men and women," said Astrid Linder. The resulting suffering can last a lifetime, it is essential to establish how everyone is protected."
Used by Volvo
Developed thanks to subsidies from the European Commission, Eva is already used by some manufacturers, such as Volvo, in Sweden, but nothing in international regulations requires it. A proposal will be submitted to the European Commission for a project to develop seat assessment tools, i.e. test dummies, as part of a larger project addressing the long-term consequences of road accident injuries.