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Do we need new crash test dummies? Study says yes

Roughly 35,000 people are killed every year in car accidents in the U.S. despite auto safety regulations like crash test dummies that are supposed to make vehicles safer and reduce fatalities.

Crash test dummies have come under scrutiny lately for not accurately representing drivers. Auto safety experts say that if crash test dummies were modified to represent the different sizes of drivers, vehicles would be a lot safer and car accident fatalities would decrease.

A new study by the co-founder of the Center for Injury Research found that if vehicles were tested with crash test dummies that were more like the actual drivers and passengers in today's vehicles, vehicle crash tests would be higher and portray what safety standards need to be implemented to keep all passengers safe in the event of a crash.

Crash test dummies do not represent most of U.S. drivers, according to the study. That is because crash test dummies were based off tests from 45 years ago when volunteer Navy sailors were the actual test subjects. The tests would have the sailors hold their body and heads as stiffly as possible to try and resist inertial loading. The study's researcher said that this is not an accurate test to base current crash test dummies off of because most of Americans will not have their spine and neck fully tensed in a crash as well as many drivers don't have the same physique as those in the Navy.

The study said that crash test dummies need to be modified to represent the proper height and weight of average Americans, including different shapes and sizes that represent both males and females as well as children.

While the safety standards for crash test dummies may always be debated, the future may hold better possibilities for better crash test dummies. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said that future crash test dummies may be computerized to better represent the different sizes of passengers as well as simulate different types of crashes and what safety features need to be standard in all vehicles.

Source: Claims Journal, "Outdated Crash Test Dummies Blamed for Continued Auto Fatalities," Denise Johnson, Dec. 18, 2012

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