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Bipartisan “She DRIVES Act” Estimated to Save 1,300+ Lives, Prevent and Mitigate Thousands of Serious Injuries

Today, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) introduced legislation to improve passenger vehicle safety by requiring the use of the most advanced testing devices available — including a female crash test dummy. The She Develops Regulations In Vehicle Equality and Safety (She DRIVES) Act would enhance passenger vehicle safety by updating U.S. crashworthiness testing procedures.

In addition to Senator Fischer, the legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.)

Currently, U.S. crash testing standards rely on a crash test dummy representing a typical adult male. However, this decades-old model does not consider other characteristics such gender, age, or disabilities. Research indicates that women are more vulnerable than men to certain types of injuries in car crashes.

“Women are 73% more likely to be seriously injured in auto crashes than men, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Our bill will update crash test dummy standards to save thousands of lives and prevent thousands more serious injuries each year,” said Senator Fischer.

“Women make up more than half the population so it’s ridiculous that we are still doing crash tests with male dummies that can’t give us accurate information about how women would fare in the event of a dangerous car crash. This is just one example of how the default male bias has real and deadly consequences—women are much more likely than men to get seriously injured and die in car crashes, in part because vehicle safety features just haven’t been designed for them. I’ve been pushing NHTSA to create parity in the crash test program for a long time and this bill would finally fix the problem—this is just common sense and it’s time to get it done,” said Senator Murray.

“Women are the majority of drivers on our streets and are historically less likely to get into a crash than men are—but they are also 73% more likely to sustain serious injuries from a crash. Despite this troubling statistic, conventional crash testing in the United States has never used female dummies appropriately. For the first time in over 60 years, this legislation will finally ensure that women are represented in crash testing, and it will prevent avoidable tragedies. We must pass this legislation immediately to keep our mothers and daughters safe on the road,” said Senator Blackburn.

“We can be doing more to improve our roadways and make sure a trip to visit a family member or a routine trip to the grocery store doesn’t end in tragedy. I’m proud to help introduce this legislation requiring our crash testing standards to better represent all Americans and more accurately reflect the safety needs of everyday drivers as well as require the use of the most advanced testing devices available to help mitigate injuries and save lives,” said Senator Duckworth.

“Drive US Forward is deeply grateful to Senators Fischer, Duckworth, Blackburn, and Murray for their leadership in introducing the She DRIVES Act. This bipartisan bill is a critical step for ending fatal gender discrimination in car safety testing - an error that costs hundreds of lives every year. We fully support this effort, and we look forward to working collaboratively to advance these priorities,” said Alison Collard de Beaufort of Drive US Forward.

“We are deeply grateful to have four of the highest-ranking women in the Senate pave the path towards equal safety for women drivers. This bill is a testament to their dedication to ridding the government’s crash test regime of bias. These bipartisan leaders have shown that, contrary to NHTSA’s stated plan, women’s safety is not optional,” said VERITY Now Co-Chairs Susan Molinari and Beth Brooke.

Background:

Multiple studies have shown that women die and are seriously injured at much higher rates than men in crashes. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 1,300 women die every year who would have otherwise lived if female death and injury rates were comparable to that of males.

Government Accountability Office (GAO) report issued over a year ago outlined the deficiencies in crash testing program, and NHTSA has missed multiple self-declared deadlines on dummy deployment. While NHTSA has long acknowledged that a family of crash test dummies is needed for accurate crash tests, theagency has yet to deploy dummies or tests that represent females, the elderly, and other vulnerable groups.

The She DRIVES Act would enhance passenger vehicle safety by updating crashworthiness testing procedures under NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP).

The bill would require the use of the most advanced testing devices available — including a female crash test dummy and a more technological advanced male dummy.

The legislation would also establish injury criteria based on real-world data and introduce specific crashworthiness tests for female occupants in both front and rear seating positions.

The bill is estimated to save 1,300+ lives, prevent and mitigate tens of thousands of serious injuries, and save billions of dollars in economic impact from preventing and mitigating injuries and deaths.

Click here to view text of the legislation.

Fischer Actions:

In 2021, Senator Fischer and U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-Mich.) introduced legislation requiring the GAO to conduct a comprehensive study and report on the NHTSA procedures for updating crash test dummy standards.

In September 2022, Senator Fischer sent a letter to Secretary Buttigieg requesting additional information on the Department’s efforts to make vehicle crash testing more equitable for female drivers by updating NHTSA’s crash testing equipment and the surrounding safety standards.

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