TAMPA - An eye-opening new study shows men and women are not created equal when it comes to auto safety. It has nothing to do with driving skills, rather the likelihood of surviving a violent crash.
It was only a year ago that the five-star rating system to grade the crash worthiness of new cars started using crash test dummies that resembled both men and women.
The early tests showed the shorter, lighter dummies sustained more damage in head-on or side impact crashes.
Now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has looked at real world accidents and found that young women in their twenties have a 25.9 percent higher risk of dying in a car crash than a man of the same age.
If she's a passenger, she faces a nearly 30 percent higher risk of death.
St. Joseph's emergency room doctor Ebrahim Karkevandian says basic anatomy explains why the young men brought in to the E.R. after violent crashes seem to hold up better than woman,
"Women have less bone mass than men. Women's bones tend to be stronger and they are shorter compared to the men," said Dr. Karkevandian.
The relative fragility of women's necks in particular seems to be the most important difference, but the NTHSA report also showed that as women age, the difference in death rates starts to even out, with woman in their 70's actually achieving lower risk than same-aged men.
The study was quick to point out that safety innovations in modern cars mean men and woman are about half as likely to die in a car crash today than fifty years ago.