Vulnerability of female drivers involved in motor vehicle crashes: An analysis of U.S. population at risk.

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OBJECTIVES: Motor vehicle trauma has been effectively reduced over the past decades; however, it is unclear whether the benefits are equally realized by the vehicle users of either sex. With increases in the number of female drivers involved in fatal crashes and similarity in driving patterns and risk behavior, we sought to evaluate if advances in occupant safety technology provide equal injury protection for drivers of either sex involved in a serious or fatal crash.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective cohort study with national crash data between 1998 and 2008 to determine the role of driver sex as a predictor of injury outcome when involved in a crash.

RESULTS: The odds for a belt-restrained female driver to sustain severe injuries were 47% (95% confidence interval = 28%, 70%) higher than those for a belt-restrained male driver involved in a comparable crash.

CONCLUSIONS: To address the sex-specific disparity demonstrated in this study, health policies and vehicle regulations must focus on effective safety designs specifically tailored toward the female population for equity in injury reduction.

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