Government accused of ‘gambling with women’s lives’ after not adopting EU crash-test rules

Government accused of 'gambling with women's lives' after not adopting EU crash-test rules

The Government is being accused of ‘gambling’ with the lives of women and older drivers as delays to new safety measures for car manufacturers continue, according to the AA.

In Northern Ireland and the European Union new vehicle models will be required to be fitted with new safety features.

Head-on collision protection has become necessary, which involves airbags and seatbelts which ‘does not disadvantage women and older people.’

Research has shown that women are almost 50 per cent more likely to be seriously injured than men in road accidents.

Finalised while Britain was still in the EU, the package of safety measures was developed with the help of British experts. However, due to the fact that they are being phased in they do not automatically apply to Britain.

As of this moment, the UK Government currently has no plans to adopt the rule in Great Britain, despite polls showing support for the new measures in the UK as well as experts backing the features.

This has led to criticism from motoring groups, who say the measures could protect women and older drivers.

In 2011, the University of Virginia Center for Applied Biomechanics revealed a study that showed that female drivers involved in car crashes were 47 per cent more likely to fall victim to a serious injury or death than their male counterparts.

According to the research, women were 80 per cent more likely to suffer serious injury to their legs than male drivers.

Experts suggest that this is due to the fact that women tend to sit further forward when driving in order to reach the pedals as their legs are typically shorter and they often need to sit more upright to see clearly over the dashboard.

In rear-end collisions, women are also at higher risk of whiplash since they have less muscle in their necks and upper torsos than men.

Testing has also come under scrutiny too. In the past, crash test dummies have been typically tested on the body of an average man.

At the time European crash test dummies were designed, 76 per cent of road deaths were men.

This means that using an average male dummy allowed testers to ensure that assessments would relate to the largest proportion of accident victims.

New research has helped to put focus on calls for female crash test dummies to account for the difference in female anatomy. In the US, female crash test dummies have been used in testing since 2011.

Car makers will have to have head-on collision protection as part of the new EU rules. This includes airbags and seatbelts which ‘does not disadvantage women and older people.’

Luke Bosdet, of the AA, stated that Britain risked falling behind the rest of Europe and would end up with a ‘massive hole’ in road safety if the rules were not formally introduced.

He said ‘our best hope’ was that British-based manufacturers such as Nissan, Toyota, BMW and Jaguar Land Rover may introduce the measures anyway due to the logistics of creating two production lines for two sets of regulations.

Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, has been urged by six former transport ministers to adopt the rules, stating they would prevent more than 200 deaths a year and 1,000 serious injuries.

The Department for Transport told The Sunday Times it was considering the measures and ‘will implement requirements that are appropriate for Great Britain and improve road safety.’

The features are part of a wider-package of EU car safety measures, including a device to prevent a drunk driver from starting an engine and intelligent speed assistance, a system which nudges motorists to observe the prevailing speed limit.

The safety measures, which also include advanced emergency braking, also aim to make cars and lorries less deadly for pedestrians.

The government have been urged by campaigners to keep the new rules and said they would save lives. However, in the wake of Brexit, critics has suggested that the government may be stalling on the implementation of the plans.

It has been suggested that some of the measures, such as intelligent speed assistance, could be seen as ‘anit-British.’

In 2019, almost two thousand people signed a petition for the government to reconsider the implementation of ‘speed limiters’ and the mandatory use of black boxes which can track location and speed, describing it as an ‘affront to personal freedom and safety.’

However, head of campaigns at road safety charity Brake, Jason Wakeford, told The Independent: “The EU proposals, which the UK helped to shape prior to Brexit, provide the biggest leap forward for road safety this century – perhaps even since the introduction of the seat belt.

“We urge the UK government to commit to adopting these lifesaving regulations, helping reduce needless deaths and serious injuries on British roads.”

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