Who Drive Better?
Most people have their answer to this question ready, mainly because they like this kind of stereotyping.
“Men are overconfident, and it is their downfall,” a certified driving instructor said. “Even if a man doesn’t know what he’s doing, he’s more inclined to say he does.”
The results of DMV tests in some states may hint in the same direction. They show lower passing rates for young men, while young women are more likely to pass their knowledge test the first time.
Is the Stereotype True?
Differences between men and women are found in a variety of fields such as mental health, cognitive abilities, personality, and aggression. Psychologists explain these gender differences as a complex interplay of biological, developmental, and cultural factors.
Research show that men tend to be more aggressive than women. By expressing aggression in a direct way, it has, as you would expect, also an impact on driving.
Men engage in more competitive and risk-taking behavior, which is likely to result in higher probabilities of crashing.
Men also break rules more often than women. Which you can see in the number of traffic violations, including exceeding speed limits, running red lights, and DUIs.
Men also show higher levels of sensation-seeking and risk-taking in different situations.
In other words, men and women are different. When it comes to driving, men take more risks, show aggression and seek thrilling sensations. Men cause more accidents, have more expensive and frequent insurance claims, and are found guilty of more traffic violations. This is true in most countries.
At the same time, men often consider themselves better drivers. In a Canadian poll, about 48% of the men said they were superior drivers. Only 25% of the women said they were better.
So, Women are Better Drivers – or Not?
In United States, a fairly equal number of men and women have a driver’s license.
In 2007, 6.1 million accidents (40,000 fatal accidents) involved men. Women were only involved in 4.4 million (14,000 fatal accidents).
Men were more likely than women to get cited for reckless driving (more than 3 times likely).
Men were also convicted of drunk driving more often than women (more than 3 times likely). In 2007, 626,371 DUIs were issued to men in the United States. Women drivers got 162,493 convictions.
Men typically paid higher car insurance premiums than women, simply because insurance companies thought they posed a higher risk.
The above numbers are often used in the debate to show that women drive, if not better, at least safer than men.
The Hours We Spend on the Road
While the above numbers may speak a clear language, they don’t consider that men spent more hours on the road. In 2007, men drove about 60 percent of all annual miles and women about 40 percent. Considering miles driven, men should be expected to be involved in more accidents and being pulled over more often – everything else being equal.
If you look at the number of accidents in 2007 and compare them with the miles driven, you’ll see that the ratio match.
How Can You Decide Who are Better Drivers?
Today, there has been a shift in women’s participation in the workforce, so their driving is now more equal to men’s. Men still drive more miles, even if the gap has narrowed, but women make more single trips.
Meaning, miles driven isn’t the only thing to consider. It is also where, when and how often we drive.
Women make more of what is known as trip-chaining. Their trips occur during peak hours in environments that may be less well designed for heavy traffic flow. As we all know, more accidents happen in cities and urban areas, simply because there is more traffic and intersections where accidents are more likely to happen.
Driving many miles in rural areas is often safer than driving a few miles in the city.
The fact that the gap between women’s and men’s driving habits are narrowing, is also shown in car insurance premiums. Consumer Federation of America (CFA), with more than 250 non-profit consumer groups, recently found that 40- and 60-year-old women with perfect driving records pay more for basic coverage nearly twice as often as men having equal histories. Young men in their 20’s is, however, still a group that pays the highest premiums.
Fatalities in Traffic
In 2016, 71% of all motor vehicle crash deaths were men.
Men accounted for:
- 71% of passenger vehicle driver deaths
- 49% of passenger vehicle passenger deaths
- 99% of large truck driver deaths
- 65% of large truck passenger deaths
- 70% of pedestrian deaths
- 84% of bicyclist deaths
- 91% of motorcyclist deaths
This, if anything, shows that the effect of men’s driving behavior is more deadly than women’s driving.
Or as Tom Vanderbilt (author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do) put it: “Men may or may not be better drivers than women, but they seem to die more often trying to prove that they are.”