Are men really safer drivers than women?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The feminist in me is in an internal conflict with the unbiased journalist within.  The feminist is dying to answer the above question with a resounding, “It all depends on the woman and the man!”  However, the objective, investigative reporter understands the importance of examining the data before coming to any rash, premature conclusions. It’s another battle of the sexes folks, so start your engines. Man vs. Woman: Who is the safer driver?

Gender Bender: Estrogen vs. Testosterone

In the last ten years or so, scientific studies have confirmed what you already knew: There are distinct differences between the brain of men and women.  The question you should be asking yourself is, do your innate behaviors have an impact on your safety when you get behind the wheel of a car?

You know, of course, that men and women have hormonal differences that cause them to handle stress differently.  In a research study on driving habits of people in the U.S. and Canada, women, it was noted, tended to be calmer in stressful driving conditions than were men.  For instance, one study claims that men were more prone than women to find themselves in the “Road Rage Zone”: Feeling anger, breaking deliberately in retaliation, cutting off other drivers, chasing another vehicle, and getting into an actual physical fight with another driver.  I think it goes without saying that road rage does not promote safe driving.

Are There More Car Accidents on Mars or Venus?

Here are some important facts and statistics about the driving habits of men and women in North America:
Men more commonly engage in risky and reckless driving practices such as DUIs, driving without a seatbelt, speeding, running stoplights and signs, and yielding the right of way, than their female counterparts.

  • Nearly 80% of all pedestrian accidents are caused by men.
  • Sobering statistics claim that 77% of men are more likely to perish in an automobile collision.
  • Women get cheap insurance rates over men, and exceedingly cheap insurance rates over young men between the ages of 16-24.

But it’s not all peaches and cream for the girls….

Double Standards

A timely news story surfaced today after this weekend’s NASCAR Nationwide race in New Hampshire. Apparently veteran racer Kevin Harvick felt that rookie female driver Amber Cope had cost him the race because she “has no clue what she’s doing in a race car.” What followed was a barrage of sexist comments from Harvick supporters. Some criticized her lack of skill, and given that she is a rookie, the criticisms may have been justified. But others “Tweeted” offensive comments about her gender, fueling the already prevalent negative attitudes towards women drivers.

We can all agree that on a racetrack, speed and aggression are important in order to win, but today’s statistics are changing rapidly, indicating that women are becoming as aggressive on the highway as men have been in the past. Maybe the days of cheap insurance for women are coming to a close?

Highway to Hell

As with all statistics, the numbers don’t always tell the whole story and raise more questions than give answers. Aren’t there factors other than who has the Y chromosome that determines driving status? Doesn’t personality, temperament, intelligence, experience, etc., play a major role in driver safety? The antidotal evidence (personal experience on the freeway) suggests what current scientific studies will soon reveal—that women may be the safer drivers for the moment—but times are changing. Hold onto your seats, because the ladies are in the driver’s seat and you’ve already seen how equality comes at a high price.

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