Published On: Tue, Feb 7th, 2017

Forget the Stats: Female Drivers are at much as Risk as Males

Drivers with tow companies see it all. There are a lot of stories they can tell you, but one that might surprise you is that female drivers and male drivers are equally at risk of being in an accident. Some of you may think men are more at risk for a variety of reasons, while others may think it is women who are more at risk. A chat with the drivers at ACS Services in Oakland, CA recently revealed the truth – that stereotypical assumptions mean nothing and that male and female drivers are equally at risk when it comes to accidents.

The stats, when it comes to gender and the relation to accidents and deaths from accidents is confusing. There are studies that compare male to female deaths, passenger deaths based on gender, and even severity of crashes based on gender. For instance, one report stated: “Crashes involving male drivers often are more severe than those involving female drivers. However, females are more likely than males to be killed or injured in crashes of equal severity, although gender differences in fatality risk diminish with age.”

Blah, blah. This might be interpreted to imply that male drivers are more aggressive, drive at greater speed, or take more risks than female drivers. Those theories are supported to some degree by the insurance rates imposed on young male drivers.  Or it may just mean that these were the parameters of the study being conducted and that no interpretative measure – such as speed or road conditions – were considered, or at least reported.

Photo/Ed Brown via wikimedia commons

While the suggestion that male drivers tend to take more chances is supported in general schools of thought, another study suggested than depressed women are 10 percent more likely than other drivers to engage in risky behavior – including speeding and cell phone use. Depressed men are also at risk for dangerous driving but to a lesser percentage than their female counterparts. So, that suggests for women, state of mind may play a more critical role in unsafe driving. Or maybe the female participants were just more open to admitting, or had previously been diagnosed with, depression.

This first report though – the one suggesting males are greater risk takers – also suggests that females are more likely to be killed or injured than males in similar accidents. I can’t fully understand the reason for this and the study it came from didn’t cite any suggestions for why this might be the case. Perhaps this is an example of so-called ‘fragile women.’ Or perhaps it is merely a chance of bad luck that they were more directly in the line of impact in the accidents studied.

Another study suggested that males aged 18 to 20 are almost seven times more likely to drink and drive than females of the same age. The ratio of men to women of the same age all the way up in the late 50s shows a similar gap in male related drinking and driving over female, although the gap decreases as people get older. That points the finger back at the men again as unsafe drivers.

Females, though reportedly are more likely to reply to a text message than their male counterparts. At least according to one study. Another noted that males were the worst offenders. Since texting and driving impairs your ability behind the wheel even more than drinking and driving, perhaps that puts the higher risk factor back on women.

A study out of New York noted that the ratio of male drivers to female drivers is higher – to the tune of about 6-4, but that men account for about 80 percent of the accidents. A disproportionate number of male accidents here, even with the ratio stacked against them so perhaps men aren’t more at risk, there are just more of them to factor in.

The bottom line, according to our tow driver friends, is that accidents happen, to both men and women. Despite the latest published study, despite the stereotypes you think you understand, both male and female drivers take risks they shouldn’t, and both drive when they are less than focused and under less than ideal conditions. Driving is tricky business and requires focused attention and discipline – from everyone.

Author: Salit David

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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