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Are Men Safer Drivers Than Women? Here’s What the Data Has to Say

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When it comes to a battle of the sexes over the title of safer drivers, a recent study from Great Britain indicates that women are indeed superior to men. This, of course, flies in the face of the commonly cited, albeit sexist, stereotype that men are savvier drivers than women. Said study, conducted by Confused.com (a British financial services comparison website which is part of the Admiral Group insurance company), examined 539,000 incidents of people convicted of breaking the law while driving on roads throughout England and Wales in 2018. Of those who were found to have broken the law via their driving habits, 79 percent were men.

While more women in Britain tend to initially fail their driving tests, once they obtain a license the research is quite clear — they are indeed safer drivers than men. Of the 1.4 million insurance claims filed in 2018, men were more than two times as likely to be responsible for initiating the filing. Additionally, male drivers were found to be at fault more frequently than female drivers when submitting those very insurance claims. Consequently, as they are statistically deemed to be safer drivers according to industry standards, women pay less for insurance than their male counterparts in Great Britain. 

When it comes to driving infractions, nearly a quarter of all of instances involved men speeding. Speeding on the part of women, on the other hand, accounted for merely seven percent of the total offenses calculated within the data. Additionally, men were found to be five times more likely to be cited for drunk driving.

But are such findings unique to those living across the pond?

As it turns out, the answer isn’t as clear-cut amongst American drivers as it is amongst those in Great Britain.

CBS News reported on a 2017 study conducted by online insurance marketplace, EverQuote, which tracked nearly 800 million miles driven by 300,000 drivers. Drivers who participated in the study were tracked by an app designed by EverQuote. The app closely monitored the behavior of each driver, recording both mistakes as well as instances of model driving. 

When analyzed according to gender, a main statistic that separated men from women was the likelihood of being distracted by cell phones when behind the wheel. In this case, men performed slightly better than women, with 38 percent of males using mobile devices compared to 42 percent of females. 

Such data — specifically related to cell phone usage and potential distraction amongst men versus women — was also found in a 2016 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Research from that study found that women were “slightly” more likely to be simultaneously wielding a cell phone and operating a vehicle.

However, an earlier study by The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that American men were far riskier drivers than women. Men were not only more likely to speed, but also less likely to use a seat belt when driving. Additionally, as was found to be the case in the study from Great Britain, men were much more likely to drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Furthermore, the IIHS study actually found that American male drivers accounted for twice as many traffic fatalities as women (though it should be noted that those fatality figures included accidents involving large trucks such as semi-trailers, which are operated more frequently by men).  

Similar to the EverQuote app, which measures specific factors that are then compiled into a rating system to demonstrate how safe a driver actually is, insurance companies such as Progressive are currently testing technology to record instances of unsafe driving including “speeding, hard accelerating and braking,” and even “hard turning.” The aim is for drivers who are shown to be safe and cautious, complying with the rules of the road, to then be eligible for reduced insurance premiums (in addition to, of course, keeping the roads safe for the general public). 

Surprisingly, although texting while driving has been shown to be extremely dangerous — often likened to driving while impaired — it is banned in only 47 states. And only 15 states have instituted a complete prohibition on any type of cell phone usage while driving. 

In the final analysis, the available data indicates much less of a disparity among American drivers when it comes to the gender divide. The EverQuote study found that men and women had virtually identical unsafe driving habits. Some specific data points from the study included:

-Men tended to accelerate aggressively on 16 percent of their trips, while women accelerated aggressively on 14 percent of trips. 

-Both men and women brake harshly on approximately one of every four trips they take (more specifically, men brake harshly on 25 percent of their trips while women do so incrementally more, braking harshly on 26 percent of trips).

-Men make hard turns on 12 percent of their trips while women make hard turns on 10 percent of theirs. 

So, although women in Great Britain are considered to currently hold the title of safer drivers when compared to men, American men and women are in a virtual dead heat. As technology advances and insurance companies intensify their monitoring of our habits on the road, we can expect to see a clearer picture of whether or not a safer sort of driver truly exists amongst the sexes.