Dec 30, 2008

Who Are Better Drivers: Men or Women?

Statistically speaking, women are better drivers than men.
Famed composer Irving Berlin captured the battle between the sexes quite succinctly in his legendary song "I Can Do Anything Better Than You" from the 1946 Broadway musical "Annie Get Your Gun." Gunslingers Annie Oakley (Ethel Merman) and Frank Butler (Ray Middleton) lyrically debated who could shoot more accurately: she or he? But what they were really fighting about was which sex is the more capable: man or woman? That same argument has been waged many times, about many topics over the years. But no gender-related discussion has been more heated than the one that rages behind the wheel. So who are better drivers: men or women?

The Answer Is ...
In a recent study released by Quality Planning, an analytics company that validates policyholder information for auto insurers, women came out on top (sorry guys).

The study analyzed different kinds of vehicle code violations (traffic violations) and then compared how many times men were cited versus women. The conclusion was that men break more traffic laws and drive more dangerously than women. Because they violate laws designed to make the roads safer, men cause more accidents and expensive damage.

"We were not surprised to see that men have slightly more violations — about 5 percent — that result in accidents than women," said Raj Bhat, president of Quality Planning. "And because men are also more likely to violate laws for speeding, passing and yielding, the resulting accidents caused by men lead to more expensive claims than those caused by women."
Topping the list is the finding that men are cited for reckless driving 3.41 more times than women. Reckless driving is considered one of the most serious traffic offenses by courts since it implies a disregard for the rights and safety of people or property.

Violations for which men scored at least 50 percent higher than women:
Reckless driving3.41
Seatbelt violations3.08
Failure to yield1.54
Stop sign/signal violation1.53

Evidence Gets Worse
Guys, when it rains it pours. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, more men than women die each year in motor vehicle crashes. "Men take more risks behind the wheel than women, and so men are more likely to get into serious crashes," says Anne McCartt, the institute's senior vice president of research. "We don't have any way of comparing their driving abilities, but on the likelihood of getting into a serious crash in which someone dies, men win handily."

Fatal passenger vehicle crash involvements per 100 million miles traveled, by driver age and gender, April 2001–March 2002:
16-19Crash Involvements: 4,257
Miles: 46,427,394,010
Rate: 9.2
Crash Involvements: 1,852
Miles: 35,264,476,105
Rate: 5.3
Crash Involvements: 6,109
Miles: 81,691,870,114
Rate: 7.5
20-29Crash Involvements: 8,949
Miles: 225,999,581,860
Rate: 4.0
Crash Involvements: 3,172
Miles: 156,283,683,955
Rate: 2.0
Crash Involvements: 12,122
Miles: 382,283,265,815
Rate: 3.2
30-59Crash Involvements: 15,027
Miles: 845,507,965,689
Rate: 1.8
Crash Involvements: 6,946
Miles: 551,350,306,430
Rate: 1.3
Crash Involvements: 21,973
Miles: 1,396,858,272,119
Rate: 1.6
60-69Crash Involvements: 2,097
Miles: 128,814,817,845
Rate: 1.6
Crash Involvements: 1,008
Miles: 64,778,212,790
Rate: 1.6
Crash Involvements: 3,105
Miles: 193,593,030,635
Rate: 1.6
70-PlusCrash Involvements: 3,148
Miles: 76,991,652,560
Rate: 4.1
Crash Involvements: 1,571
Miles: 39,093,332,009
Rate: 4.0
Crash Involvements: 4,719
Miles: 116,084,984,569
Rate: 4.1
Total*Crash Involvements: 33,733
Miles: 1,324,373,970,682
Rate: 2.5
Crash Involvements: 14,633
Miles: 847,734,931,097
Rate: 1.7
Crash Involvements: 48,638
Miles: 2,172,108,901,779
Rate: 2.2
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

On the Flip Side
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also reported that from 1975 to 2003, female deaths in motor vehicle crashes increased 14 percent, compared with an 11 percent decline for male motorists during that same period. Insurance industry experts peg the rise in female deaths in vehicular crashes to more women obtaining driver's licenses than in the past and driving more miles than, say, 25 years ago.
Plus, it seems as if female motorists are getting more aggressive. "It's true that men do take more risks than women," says Carolyn Gorman, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute. "However, [women] are partaking in more risky behaviors than ever before. The gap is closing quickly."

So Are Women Better Drivers Than Men?
Many auto insurance industry experts would agree with the theory that men, especially young men, tend to drive more aggressively than women and display their aggression in a direct manner, rather than indirectly. Furthermore, as a rule of thumb, male drivers are more likely than women to break the law, and the male of the species tends to be more of a risk-taker.
Even so, it's hard to say women are better drivers, although they are statistically safer. Women have just as many accidents as men; however, they tend to be minor fender-benders. Men, on the other hand, tend to do the job properly when they crash, and as a result cost their insurance companies a lot more money.
So, even though it's a blow to our male egos, we'll have to give this round to women. Sorry fellas.
For nearly two decades, New York-based writer and editor Chuck Tannert has covered everything from automobiles to gadgets to travel. Before joining the MSN Autos team, Tannert served as senior automotive editor at Popular Mechanics, and his work has appeared in many outlets, including Cargo, Men's Journal, Penthouse, Popular Science, and Wired.