Battle of the sexes behind the wheel

How would you answer the question: "Are women worse drivers than men?" I certainly grew up hearing jokes about how women are bad drivers, but I also know that data tell a different story. A study by MetLife shows that men are 3.4 times more likely than women to get a ticket for reckless driving and 3.1 times as likely to be cited for drunk driving. "Women are on average less aggressive and more law-abiding drivers -- attributes that lead to fewer accidents," the study says.

Men more often violate speeding laws, as well as laws on passing and yielding. The kinds of crashes correlated to those behaviors are bigger, more dangerous, and lead to higher accident claims. 

Death rates show these differences even more starkly. In 2009, nearly 12,000 male drivers died in vehicle crashes in the U.S. Just under 5,000 female drivers died that year. Per 100 million miles traveled, men died on the roads at a rate of 2.5 compared to 1.7 for women. Male teen fatalities in car crashes are nearly double that of female teens, at 9.2 vs. 5.3 deaths per million miles traveled. Research shows that men take more risks behind the wheel, which increases their chance of a serious car accident causing grave injury or death. The fast and furious driving styles tend to taper off around age 70, luckily, as the numbers run about equal by then. 

Insurance companies follow the data. This means men pay higher insurance premiums than women. Not fair for all the good male drivers, of course, but insurers must know their bottom lines. Since men statistically cause more accidents than women, they have more claims, so it logically follows that they pay higher premiums. Women pay an overall 9% less for auto insurance than men. In Washington, it's an even higher different, at 9.6% cheaper than men's premiums. 

As the chorus of protest starts to warm up, here's why:

  • Women are almost 50 percent less likely than men to have a DUI/DWI on their driving record
  • Women are approximately 10 percent less likely to have a moving violation on their record
  • Women tend to own vehicles with a lower value which makes them less expensive to insure ($22,815 versus $24,861)
  • Women are less likely to request insurance for multiple drivers/vehicles

It's not fair for the male drivers who don't feel the need to drive as though they're starring in an action flick. Because it seems to be a developmental stage that hits men harder than women, guys between the ages of 16-29 are behind the numbers that put all male drivers into the higher premium category.

Though it's no silver lining, the numbers of teenaged drivers and accidents between the sexes are equalizing. Teenaged girls are catching up to the guys due to distracted driving, which makes everyone a terrible driver

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