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Are women more likely than men to be injured in car accidents?

A recent study by the American Journal of Public Health has found that women who wear seat belts are 47% more likely to be injured in a car accident than men who also wear seat belts. The study found that a number of factors, such as women’s “relatively short stature” and “preferred seating posture,” gave women “lower safety protection from the standard restraint devices.” In particular, women wearing seat belts have a higher risk of sustaining chest and spine injuries than similarly belted men. Women are also more likely than men to be injured by airbag deployment. The study’s results have led some bloggers to complain that “male-centric design of safety features” puts women at an unreasonable risk of injury.

The study has one important caveat, however: it only examined cars built between 1998 and 2008. USA Today reports that newer cars “have dual-depth or dual-stage driver and passenger air bags and weight sensors that change the force of the air bag depending on occupant size, seat belt use and seat placement.”

These new safety measures are encouraging for women and men alike. However, the millions of women driving cars manufactured before 2009 remain at a heightened risk of injury — with no easy remedy in sight.

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