The results are in: Whether women or men are better drivers depends who you are asking and what you are comparing. It also matters how you define “better.” For example, if you define “better” as meaning getting into fewer accidents, surprisingly men actually win. A study by the Johns Hopkins Schools of Medical and Public Health found that women actually crash a little bit more often than men. Women, the study found, have 5.7 accidents per million miles driven, whereas men crash only 5.1 times in a million miles driven.
However, if you define “better” by the degree of severity of the accident, then women win, hands down. The same Johns Hopkins study found that the quality and severity of those crashes differs significantly: the recklessness of mens’ driving results in far more fatal crashes for men than for women. More than 11,900 male drivers died in U.S. traffic accidents in 2009, compared with just under 4,900 women drivers, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Based on miles traveled, men died at a rate of 2.5 deaths per 100 million miles traveled, versus. 1.7 deaths for women.
But take this into account: historically, men drive 74% more miles per year than women. These statistics are changing as more women are taking to the road. Though most people, and even insurance companies, seem to think that women, having less testosterone and therefore, and therefore inclined to be less reckless and more careful, must be better drivers, it’s clear that current statistics align with that supposition in terms of severity but not numbers of accidents.
It seems fair to say that while women are safer drivers, there’s no clear winner in the man v. woman controversy on who is a better driver when it comes to highway accidents. But on many other criteria, women definitely fare better then men. No matter what the definition, women are better.
DUI Results – Women Win
Crashes are not the only way to evaluate who drives better. For example, The Insurance Study found that men are three times more likely than women to be involved in a DUI. In 2007, the most recent year in which a comparison was reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 626,371 DUIs were issued to men in the United States. Women drivers were issued a comparatively small 162,493 violations.
Pedestrian Accidents – Women Win
How about pedestrian accidents? Women win again. 4autoinsurancequote.org reports that according to a New York City traffic study, 80% of all auto accidents that kill or seriously injure pedestrians involve male drivers. And it’s notable that 90% of pedestrian accidents in NYC involve private vehicles, not taxis or buses.
Seatbelt Usage – Women Win
Who uses a seatbelt more religiously? Women of course! According to the Centers for Disease Control men are 10% less likely to use seatbelts than women. www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/seatbelts/facts.html
Fault for Accidents – Women Win
Who is more likely to be at fault when an accident occurs? Men or women? Men by a landslide. 4autoinsurancequote.org found that female drivers were 27% less likely to be found at fault when involved in an accident then men. Other statistics support this conclusion: According to the United States Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, men were involved in 6.1 million accidents (40,000 were fatal) in 2007. By comparison, women were only involved in 4.4 million (14,000 were fatal).
Traffic Violations – Women Win
What about traffic violations? Women win again. They have far fewer incidents of traffic violations than do women. 4insurancequotes.org reports that “men are more likely than women to get cited for reckless driving (3.41 to 1 ratio), speeding (1.75 to 1 ratio), failure to yield (1.54 to 1 ratio), and stop signal violations (1.53 to 1 ratio).
Conclusion – Women Win Every Time
No matter how you cut it, women are better drivers: their accidents are less severe because they are less reckless than men and take fewer risks.
Insurance companies recognize this and reward women with lower auto insurance premiums. The correlation is direct and beneficial. Men pay for their recklessness. According to insweb.com, the average cost for a six month policy in the United States is $698 for women and $765 for men. In some states, the price difference between men and women is well over $100! Insweb also did a study of rates concluding that women pay an average of about 9% less for auto insurance than men.
One place we really can stand to improve – we should become more familiar with the safety equipment our vehicles have to offer. MetLife has found that men have familiarized themselves with current safety equipment such as electronic stability control, which helps prevent rollover accidents. But, this is a small learning curve – easily achieved by most.
So, stay the “gentler” sex – at least on the road. Don’t get distracted by your cell phones or by texting and driving. Don’t’ become reckless. Keep your safety and the safety of those around you your top priority. Stay focused and calm. Follow the rules of the road. Your reward will come in hard numbers, driving and living well – and in bragging rights!