Crash-Test Dummies Look Different
Crash-test dummies have been in use for decades. But, for decades, the design of these dummies hasn’t changed, while Americans have. Humanetics, a company that manufactures crash-test dummies teamed up with trauma surgeon Stewart Wang from the University of Michigan to design and develop new dummies that mirror what the average American looks like today. What does that mean? Well, it means larger, much larger.
The average US male today is about 195 pounds, and women are 166 pounds. This is about 20 pounds more than in the ’70s. According to the USDA we are eating 20% more calories on average than in the ’70s and 80’s.
For crash-test dummies to show accurate results in simulated auto accidents, they have to match what Americans look like. And compared to 40 years ago when many of the dummies were developed, we are much fatter and older. Humanetics have created two new dummies. One is obese at 273 pounds and one reflects an overweight 70-year-old-woman. The obese dummy is over 100 pounds heavier than a current dummy.
Why New Dummies?
According to Dr. Wang, “The typical patient today is overweight or obese — they’re the rule rather than the exception. You can’t talk about injuries without talking about the person.” Dr. Wang is also the director at the University’s International Center for Automotive Medicine. This team helped Humanetics create the new dummies by analyzing over 6,000 scans from a national database to determine the correct averages.
These updates are necessary as according to Dr. Wang, differences in body types also meas different injuries. For example he explained, “Obese drivers, can “submarine” when in a frontal crash, meaning they slip underneath the lap belt. They sustain much more severe lower-extremity injuries twice as frequently as those who are not overweight.”
Besides the obese dummy, the older dummy was necessary because we are living longer. Getting older causes our chests to change, and chest injuries increase extremely. Besides a redesigned chest, the older dummy had a weight distribution that is lower and the spine is more curved.
These changes will help determine the safety of vehicles more accurately as, the affects on the dunmy will be much more realistic.