Surprise: Women are safer drivers

I’ll bet you didn’t see that one coming.  Who would have thought that the gender more associated with violence and aggression would be more likely to speed, take risks, and display road rage?

If you watch car crash videos on youtube for any length of time, you’ll notice hundreds of hour long videos of car crashes while “women driver” videos are few and most in the five to fifteen minute range.   So why are women assumed to be the worst drivers? Because men are making the videos?

The gender of the driver isn’t the only important factor, there’s also the type of crash.  The majority of women’s crashes you’ll see in videos tend to be slow speed collisions, fender benders or inattentiveness.  The majority of crashes from high speed and aggression and from road rage incidents involve men.  Here’s two videos, one from April 12, 2020 (gender not identified, a channel that publishes two videos per week) and the newest “women only” video from two months ago (three minutes long).

From the British Medical Journal:

Men pose more risk to other road users than women

Men pose more risk to other road users than women do and they are more likely to drive more dangerous vehicles, reveals the first study of its kind, published online in the journal Injury Prevention.

[. . .]

In terms of absolute numbers, cars and taxis were associated with most (two-thirds) of fatalities to other road users. But a comparison of fatalities per distance travelled shows that other vehicles might be even more dangerous.

Lorries were associated with one in six deaths to other road users: each km driven was associated with more than five times the number of such deaths than each km driven in a car. There was a similarly high death toll for buses per km driven.

[. . .]

For cars and vans, the risk posed by male drivers was double that posed by women per km driven, rising to four times higher for lorry drivers, and more than 10 times higher for motorbike riders.

A link to the full study: How does mode of travel affect risks posed to other road users? An analysis of English road fatality data, incorporating gender and road type


  1. brucegee1962 says

    I had a psychology professor in college who said that, because womens’ faces were smaller than mens’, their eyes were closer together. Because of this, their depth perception was worse, and they were more likely to run the car into the end of the garage.

    This was in 1984. I should have asked for his statistics.

  2. lochaber says


    that’s a pretty spectacular geometry fail. and I can only assume that that same prof likely thought men were also better at math…

  3. says

    Several years ago, the Analog columnist G. Harry Stein wrote a column entitled “Women Pilots”. Seems that the FAA is required to investigate every aircraft collision/accident/malfunction, so the FAA has a complete set of data. And amazingly enough, it turns out that women pilots are, in fact, safer than male pilots…

    • says

      I saw couple of studies on pilots (don’t have them handy) that said safety records were equal when accounting for age and experience. One said the biggest difference is the discouragement (prevention?) of women from joining countries’ air forces, the route male pilots usually take.

  4. says

    I do wonder though how the balance of safe driving changes with age. A while ago my SIL was grumbling that my brother drove like an old man. I looked him up and down and pronounced that could be possible because he actually is an old man. Didn’t go over that well.

    I certainly have lost most of my desire to drive as fast as possible, enjoy driving quite differently to how I did 20 years ago.

    • machintelligence says

      As my mother ‘s macular degeneration progressed she eventually quit driving. Shortly before that, I was on an exit ramp near our homes when I observed that the operator of a vehicle several cars ahead of me “drove like my mom.” Then I realized it WAS my mom. I am proud that she gave up driving on her own.
      On the other hand a friend had “the talk” with her father about driving becoming to dangerous, and he agreed. Less than two weeks later she was called because he had been in a traffic accident. When she asked him about it he replied that he hadn’t been driving; he just went to the post office.

      • says

        My view is that people should be retested every year, not renew their license every five years. Reduced vision and mental faculty can come on quickly, and renewal without retesting both rewards and reinforces bad habits. If retesting got you a lower insurance rate, people would start doing it *and* bad drivers would be taken off the road.

        • jonmoles says

          Not sure about every year, but I agree about retesting. And it has to be more than just vision, a written exam with questions about right-of-way concerning four-way stops and what happens when stop lights lose power is a must, and a driving test that involves merging onto highways and navigating roundabouts will reveal more about how people drive than the standard test. And instantly fail anyone that touches their cell phone during any portion of the testing.

  5. brucegee1962 says

    Not sure if it was the same professor, but what I was hearing at the time on the subject was “men and women have the same math ability on average, but men have more variance and produce more idiots and geniuses.” Also wrong, of course.