A woman driving a car.

I’ve driven thousands of miles over my lifetime. My first car was a hand-me-down that took me back and forth between home and college, then down to Washington, D.C., for my first job. Then there was my first cross-country adventure, to see the sights and visit friends. Over the years and across the miles, I put my trust in the cars I drove. Like most Americans, I assumed that automakers were designing and testing cars with my safety in mind. But then I learned that my three brothers can drive on the road with more confidence than I—or any other woman—can. That’s because, shockingly, there are no truly accurate adult “female” crash test dummies. When frontal crash tests are performed to determine safety ratings, dummies modeled on the average male are used as a stand-in for all adults, while the closest representation of a female form is just the male dummy scaled down enough that it can double as a 12-year-old child.

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If that doesn’t alarm you, consider this: Research shows that the odds for women being seriously injured in a frontal crash are 73 percent greater than they are for men, even when both are wearing seat belts. Despite the strides we’ve made in car safety technology, a crash testing system that fails to account for women’s physiology has ignored half of our population, exposing us to greater danger. That’s why CR’s safety experts at our test track are shining a light on this issue.

Earlier this fall, two members of Congress pushed the government agency that oversees vehicle safety to conduct more research on crash test bias to ensure women’s safety. While this process could take decades to implement, the stakes of doing nothing are simply too high. With today’s technology, failing to confront such inequality is simply inexcusable. At CR, we will continue to bring this problem out of our country’s blind spot—and spark automakers to create a safer, fairer system for everyone.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the February 2020 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.