Many Wisconsin drivers take the benefits of crash-testing for granted. When we get in our cars to go to work in the morning, we know that the manufacturer has already tested how a crash will impact our bodies. Thanks to federal regulations, cars on the road in Wisconsin must meet basic safety standards and have specific features that help prevent accidents and minimize injuries in the event of an accident.

Information about what happens inside of the car during a crash is first gathered through the use of crash-test dummies. Originally made out of plaster in the late 1940s, crash test dummies have been a central figure in the evolution of motor vehicle safety. Testing of this kind became increasingly important as Americans began to venture out onto the interstate highway system in the mid 1950s, and the range of possibilities for car accidents expanded significantly.

Crash test dummies are now sophisticated devices with many sensors and monitors, helping carmakers gather complex information about the impact of an accident on the drivers and passengers in the car. Industry analysts now use dummies of a variety of shapes and sizes to simulate children, infants, and different sized adults. Modern dummies are made out of a combination of rubber, vinyl, and steel to be durable but also move in a similar way to a human body.

A spokesperson for General Motors said that many of the safety features we take for granted in cars today, such as seatbelt placement and steering wheel positioning, are the result of extensive testing with crash-test dummies.

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