Isn’t if funny how the average man always thinks he’s a better driver than any woman on the planet no matter how many tickets he has on his extensive driving record? Of course, each one has an oh-so-valid excuse – couldn’t be his fault, could it?
Before you snap under the pressure of those endless jokes about female drivers, take a look at these studies. Next time, you’ll have something to rub his nose in when he starts with the back-seat driving.
1. The New York City Study
Findings: 80% of serious pedestrian-related accidents were caused by men.
Reasoning: Men are more aggressive and reckless behind the wheel.
Granted, The Big Apple isn’t known for safe drivers of any gender, but this finding was startling. Over a period of five years, the vast majority of auto accidents that killed or seriously injured a pedestrian involved male drivers. No wonder many feel it’s not safe to walk the streets of this American city.
Before you feel too bad for the city’s pedestrians, their same risk-taking behavior seems to play as big a part in who gets hit as who does the hitting. Men under 64 were more likely to be struck by a car while walking than women of any age. Sounds like men are bad drivers AND bad walkers. Who knew?
2. The Insurance Industry
Findings: Men are 77% more likely to die in a car accident.
Reasoning: Men take more risks on the road than women.
The insurance companies aren’t giving anyone a break on their insurance rates unless there is justification to do so. The fact that women consistently receive lower rates on car insurance in both the US and the UK is firm evidence of what gender is the safer driver. The numbers behind the rate difference indicate that 68% of women have clean driving records compared to only 64% of men. As traffic citations go up, the rates are similar:
- 1 to 3 Tickets – Women 30%, Men 33%
- 4 or More Tickets – Women 2%, Men 3%
3. The Quality Planning Study
Findings: Male drivers have 5% more traffic violations that result in an accident than female drivers.
Reasoning: Men break more traffic laws than women, especially the ones designed to keep the roads safe.
This study looked directly at the statistics by reviewing driving records of both men and women. Men had more than a 50% higher violation rate than women for the following extremely dangerous practices:
- Reckless Driving
- Seatbelt Violations
- Failure to Yield
- Running Stop Lights or Stop Signs
4. The Sheilas’ Wheels Findings
Findings: Male drivers file 16% more accident claims than female drivers during the summer.
Reasoning: Men are easily distracted by summer fashions.
Did we really need an official study to tell us this one? Men are more likely to drive off the road or into another car while they’re watching some barely dressed woman walk along the street on a warm summer day.
5. The Estrogen vs. Testosterone Debate
Findings: Higher estrogen levels = better drivers
Reasoning: Testosterone fuels aggression and risk-taking behavior.
Women may be better drivers than men due to nature. Their very body chemistry just makes it work out that way. The characteristics that kept women home to take care of the kids and tend the gardens and drove men out to hunt game and protect the home from invaders are the very things that create such a big difference in driving habits. Here are a few ways that this chemical variation translates into very different driving habits:
- Estrogen contributes to those motherly instincts that urge women to protect others – including passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers.
- Estrogen leads to longer attention spans and the ability to focus on the important things even when distracted.
- Estrogen gives women a better ability to not only learn the rules but to obey them.
- Testosterone has been blamed for aggressive behavior while recent studies indicate that a deficiency of the same hormone can also trigger aggression. Seems like there’s no winning with this one.
Are Women Really Good Drivers?
Just because you’re better than a really bad driver doesn’t mean that you’re a great one. After all, most of these studies talk about what men are doing wrong rather than what women are doing right. Women are still guilty of some serious traffic offenses, and they actually have just as many car crashes as men – they just tend to have fender-benders while accidents involving men tend to result in more fatalities and totaled cars.
As far as aggressive behavior and risk taking go (the two biggest problems with male drivers), the gap is closing. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, female deaths in auto accidents are climbing (14% increase from 1975 to 2003) while male deaths are dropping (11% decrease in the same time period). This change is due to two factors: more women are driving for longer distances and women are becoming more aggressive on the road.
Although the numbers indicate that women are the better gender when it comes to driving, this doesn’t mean a lot when it comes down to the individual. Members of either sex can be extremely safe or amazingly dangerous when they hit the road depending on whether they decide to follow the rules and keep their emotions, and aggressions, in check.