A new study finds women are more likely than men to be injured in automobile accidents, and the culprit may be safety features that are not properly proportioned for them.

Researchers reviewed crash data from 1998 through 2008 and discovered that female drivers wearing seatbelts were not only hurt more often than men who wore them, but they suffered more chest and spinal injuries than belted male drivers in comparable crashes.

The researchers said this result was likely because of women’s “relatively short stature, preferred seating posture and a combination of these factors yielding lower safety protection from the standard restraint devices.”

As a result, the study authors concluded, “female motor vehicle drivers today may not be as safe as their male counterparts” and “the relative higher vulnerability of female drivers when exposed to moderate and serious crashes must be taken into account.”

The study is set for publication in the December print issue of the ‘American Journal of Public Health.’

[Women's Health]