Male and Female Drivers – Who’s Worse?

There is an eternal debate it seems as to who is better at driving, men or women? To answer this burning question, it is necessary to investigate some of the research in existence.

Men and Women think the same

Ottawa University researchers and psychologists studied nearly 400 male and female drivers ranging from the youngest to the very old and virtually all rated themselves favourably.

They were asked to say how likely they would be to have a crash compared to an average motorist of the same sex and different age groups.

All drivers, men and women, young and old, rated themselves over the “average motorist”, but even more so when they were compared to over 65 age category.

Men break the law more

A survey of more than 11,000 AA Ireland members showed women drivers were less likely than men to be asked for their licence. One reason for this is that males tend to be higher mileage drivers.

Women, at almost 87 per cent, were less likely to have penalty points than men. Fifty-five per cent of men believed the allocation of points was unfair, compared to 41 per cent of women.

A study released by Quality Planning, 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.

Reckless driving 3.41
DUI 3.09
Seatbelt violations 3.08
Speeding 1.75
Failure to yield 1.54
Stop sign/signal violation 1.53

More men die in vehicle accidents but women are crashing more often

According to The Road Safety Authorities (RSA) Road Collision Facts 2008, there were 28,464 Road Traffic Accidents (RTA’s) reported to the Gardai and some 9,758 injuries recorded. The cost to the state was €1.2 billion and each fatal collision cost €2.75 million.

Overall, more males were killed in 2008 and 68% of all drivers killed were male too

In 2008, among all casualties including minor injuries, female car passengers were twice as likely to be injured when compared to male car passengers

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.

According to a controversial study by researchers at the John Hopkins Schools of Medicine and Public Health, women are more likely to be involved in car crashes than men.

The investigators discovered that teenage boys start recklessly, with about 20 per cent more crashes per mile driven than teenage girls. Is this the boy racer element?  Males and females between the ages of 20 and 35 run almost identical risks. Females over the age of 35, however, are significantly more likely to crash than their male counterparts

Car Parking in China

A shopping centre Shijiazhuang city in China’s Hebei province has built a car park with 3ft wider spaces painted in pink and light purple to appeal to female drivers.

Wang Zheng, the manager of the facility, said that the design would appeal to women’s “strong sense of colour and different sense of distance”, and that

“There is a scientific basis for all this. Women have a poorer sense of distance when they are locked inside a small space. That is why female drivers often bump the front and back of their cars. There is also a 15 per cent greater chance that a woman will whack her car door into another car when she opens it.”


Even driving instructors put women down in Russia

For decades, Russia’s women drivers have been laughed off the roads by their male counterparts.  In fact a magazine called Woman at the Wheel was launched to help women with all aspects of driving as it is estimated that  the number of women drivers in Russia is estimated to have increased by up to 50% in the last decade.

Sergei Talanukhin has been a driving instructor for almost 10 years Russia he told James Rodgers of the BBC that women are shy by nature and they might get scared and close their eyes.

Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia women are not allowed drive. According to back in 2005 a woman called Hanadi Zakaria Al-Hindi obtained her commercial pilots license in Jordan and became the first Saudi woman to do so. However she cannot drive a vehicle in her own country.

However Roger Hardy of said that Two Saudi scholars Abdel-Mohsin al-Obaikan – one of Saudi Arabia’s senior religious figures – and another well-known cleric, Mohsin Awaji have said there is nothing in Islamic law to prevent women from driving.

They say women would need to be protected from harassment and that steps would have to be taken to ensure there was no mingling of the sexes and harassment of women drivers.

So Are Women Better Drivers Than Men?

In short the answer is no. Driver behaviour is by far the most important aspect to road safety. This shouldn’t be gender specific. While we in Ireland have banter between the sexes it seems there are parts of the world which are male dominated and the banter takes a very serious turn into human rights issues.

Jeff Aherne is a featured guest on Newstalk’s Motor Mouth show every week. For more details on the show visit the Newstalk website.

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