There are two parts to the aim of this study. The first part comprised reviewing how men and women are represented in regulatory tests conducted to assess adult occupant safety in vehicles in Europe. This part also contains an overview of some differences between females and males that may influence dynamic responses in a crash. Based on the results of the review an outline for how to better represent the adult population in regulatory tests has been suggested. The second part was to reflect on these issues from a specific critical legal perspective, that is from a Gender Legal Studies point of view, focusing on the European legal framework that governs the tests of adult occupant safety in vehicles in Europe. Since the beginning of the 1970s legal scholars have shown in several areas of law that there is a gap between superior legislation and practice, but also between gender equality as a superior legal principle and subordinate legal rules that govern safety requirements. The same pattern can be discerned in the area of Transportation Law. The results of the review of the ECE regulations shows that the average sized male represents the adult population and that the average sized female has been excluded from regulations assessing the protection of adult vehicle occupants. The fundamental values, on which the Union is founded, including the overarching goals of the Union, seem to be rendered invisible in the laws and critically impact the safety of women in everyday life. According to the gender system theory, the interests and priorities of men are continuing to shape the law. Consequently, the law neglecting the safety of women on roads has implications on the development of society. The lack of legal provisions that demand female crash test dummies representing the female part of the population, means that there is no incentive for car manufacturers, authorities or other stakeholders to develop test methods and female crash test dummies in ways that promote political objectives expressed in legal form, i.e., the legal values expressed in general provisions and principles stated in the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, such as gender equality between women and men as well as non-discrimination This study highlights the undeniable gap between the legal framework and legal requirements with regard to occupant safety for the whole adult population. It would be attainable to bridge this particular gender gap by providing equal representation for the female part of the population with regard to vehicle safety, as that males benefit from.
Linder, A., & Svedberg, W. (2019). Review of average sized male and female occupant models in European regulatory safety assessment tests and European laws: Gaps and bridging suggestions. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 127, 156–162. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aap.2019.02.030