The debate between women and men drivers about driving skills is always an interesting and often heated one. We have recently added 2 blog posts on this topic titled “Why do some car insurers focus on women only?” and “Does cheaper car insurance imply women are better drivers?”.
On our social media platforms such as Facebook we find that our road safety experts differ on the driving ability of our male and female drivers. One of our accident investigators, who has witnessed many horrific accidents caused by both male and female drivers remain unconvinced that “women are the better drivers” – whilst one of our female road safety experts pointed towards the fact that car insurers have the facts to prove that women cause fewer accidents.
During this 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children, it is appropriate to write something with a focus on our female drivers. Even though this is not necessarily a tribute or a post aimed at applauding our female drivers, it shares some light on this debate – and might provide some information to be used in the often heated exchanges between men and women on this topic.
I have come across interesting data appearing in “Science Daily” under the title “Women Not Neccessarily Better Drivers Than Men”. This article made reference to a research study by the Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine and Public Health. This study found that although men are three times more likely than women to be killed in car crashes, female drivers are involved in slightly more crashes than men measured on distance travelled. Overall, men were involved in 5.1 crashes per million miles driven compared to 5.7 crashes for women, despite the fact that on average they drove 74 percent more miles per year than did women.
The investigators, who published their results in the July 2008 issue of Epidemiology, found that although teenage boys started off badly, with about 20 percent more crashes per mile driven than teenage girls, males and females between ages 20 and 35 were equally at risk of being involved in a crash, and after age 35 female drivers were at greater risk of a crash than their male counterparts.
Lead author Guohua Li, MD, PhD, associate professor of Emergency Medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, said, “Although risk-taking behaviors may contribute to the excessive injury mortality among men and younger drivers, up to now age and sex discrepancies in death rates from motor vehicle crashes have not been well understood.”
Which factors were taken into consideration?
The researchers used 1990 crash statistics gathered by the Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS), the General Estimates System (GES), and the Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS) and applied an innovative method called “decomposition” to break down the data into new categories and weigh the relative contributions of three variables: crash fatality, incidence density (that is, number of crashes per million person-miles) and exposure prevalence (annual average miles driven per driver). Traditionally, the death rate ratio has been considered to be a function of just two factors: fatality rates and accident rates.
The investigators determined that about half of the 3.1-fold difference between the sexes’ fatal crash involvement rates was due to the fact that males’ crashes were more severe. Another 40 percent was due to the fact that men, who on average drove many more miles than women, thus had a greater opportunity of being in a crash; and 8 percent because of gender differences in “crash incidence density,” the number of crashes per million person-miles.
[Information from materials provided by Johns Hopkins School Of Public Health]
This will remain an interesting debate. There is no denying the fact that women are offered a lower insurance premium – and the lower insurance risk tells us that this is well deserved. Whether they remain in a more favourable financial position will however depend on their accident record and whether they manage to avoid accidents and car insurance claims!
We wish all our female drivers the very best – may they be safe from harm and the trauma of car accidents!