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Crash test dummies are due to get chubbier and older

Published by Sergio Rodrigues on May 12, 2017 | Leave a response
The average looking crash test dummy looks, well, average. Car manufacturers and the NCAP test centres have been using the same model of dummies for around 50 years now, but following research from a number of US universities, new models of crash test dummies are due to come into usage.

These new dummies will be representative of new body types that are under more significant risk in the event of a crash than an ‘average’ one. They will be based around the bodies of a ‘borderline-obese’ 70 year old female, and a 6ft 2in obese middle aged adult and will feature ‘organs’ that behave like real ones.


The reason for US-based manufacturer Humanetics making these new dummies comes from the fact that current crash tests and safety measures do not serve these fast growing groups of drivers. With research showing that drivers that are considered overweight or obese are 78% more likely to die in a car crash than drivers of ‘average weight’.

According to researcher Prof Stewart Wang at the University of Michigan, “The obese suffer more lower extremity injuries than average drivers but fewer abdominal, with the elderly, the area of concern is not the lower extremities but the chest.” and as such, the new dummies are designed to highlight the injuries that could occur in those drivers.

Even something like the position of the seat-belt on the body can cause significant injuries that wouldn’t occur in the ‘average’ person, such as the pressure that the diagonal belt can put on an elderly person’s chest, damaging the ribs or the lungs.

As such, Humanetics have also used CT scans and 3D printing technology to produce ‘bones’ and ‘organs’ for use in the new dummies, that behave in a similar way to the real deal, so the crash tests can measure the difference that body-type makes in crashes, as well as the severity of the injuries that can occur.

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