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However, ABC News reported that the findingsprobably don't apply to cars made today, since researchers only looked at car crashes between 1998 and 2008, and some of those cars were likely made before 1998.
"The average life of a car is around 12 years," Clarence Ditlow, of the Center for Auto Safety, told ABC News. "The study would have a lot more value if it were limited to 2000 and later model year vehicles to make sure all vehicles had female friendly airbags."
However, a 2007 study published by Carnegie Mellon University researchers show that men are more likely to actually die in a car accident, with men 77 percent more likely to be in a fatal car accident than women (when factoring in the number of miles driven), MSNBC reported.
As for which sex is actually safer behind the wheel -- research has shown results batting for both sides of the debate. AOL's Autoblog reported on a study that showed that women are more likely than men to be involved in accidents with T junctions, slip roads (a road connection to another road) and crossroads. But the 2007 Carnegie Mellon study shows that elderly women are safer drivers than teen boys, MSNBC reported.
American Journal of Public Health, 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300275
Dipan Bose, Ph.D., Maria Segui-Gomez, ScD, MD, MPH and Jeff R. Crandall, PhD
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. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print October 20, 2011:e1-e6. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2011.300275)