Plymouth, MI (CBS News)– Since Americans have changed physically over the years, the dummies used to test the safety of vehicles have to reflect that difference.
For close to fifty years, a 5-foot-9, 170 pound dummy has served as the standard. However, American drivers are now taller, weigh more and are older.
According to Steward Wang from the University of Michigan’s International Center for Automative Medicine, heavier people sustain more severe, lower extremity injuries in crashes.
The new dummies developed for testing are more like most American adults. They are one hundred pounds heavier and a few inches taller.
Another demographic needed to be protected in crashes are drivers over 65 years old. This age bracket makes up 20 percent of drivers and their bodies tend to be more fragile.
Older people are more likely to sustain injuries to their chest compared to younger individuals.
While it could take years to obtain regulatory approval, testers are working with the bigger dummies and those built like older people to see if using them instead will mean better safety for drivers in the future.