When does gender matter behind the wheel?

There's a sobering saying, "The female of the species is more deadly than the male." It first surfaced in a poem by Rudyard Kipling and achieved international recognition through the "shock shock horror" song by Space. Taken literally when applied to humanity, it suggests women are more likely to kill you than men. Except, when it comes to driving, this is almost certainly not true. There's a myth put about by men that women are bad drivers. Talk to the average male driver and they will pour scorn on women, telling tall stories about dangerous behavior on the roads. Yet this sexist view is not supported by the accident statistics. When you add up all the numbers from around the world, men are three times more likely to die on the roads than women. The truth seems to be that men may have better spatial awareness and so slightly better control of their vehicles. But women have better self-control which makes them safer drivers. The result in the gender stakes is that men, particularly when young, are more reckless than women, driving faster with less attention. Women are more cautious, driving more slowly and causing fewer serious accidents. Even more importantly, women have fewer emotional hang-ups about the cars they drive. Whereas men prefer to be seen in fast, sleek sporty cars, women tend to have more modest (and cheaper) tastes.

Let's put the big picture together. For now, we'll assume that women are as good as male drivers and both sexes have the same number of accidents. The cars driven by women will be traveling more slowly when they collide. That means there will be less impact and so a reduced risk of injuries. Now add in the fact that women tend to be driving less expensive cars and the total loss of damage to the vehicles and injuries to the people inside will always be lower. The rest of the statistics from law enforcement complete the picture. When it comes to tickets issued and convictions, women are rarely caught exceeding the speed limit, do not drive recklessly and are less likely to drive while drunk or incapacitated by drugs. Finally, men love their cars and prefer to drive them over long distances. Women make shorter commuter journeys and take the plane or train over longer distances.

This means lower premiums for women drivers. They are more careful, have fewer accidents and cause less damage. Men are less likely to obey the law, and more likely to be injured and cause injuries. Auto insurance premiums are therefore significantly higher for younger male drivers and, on average, higher than the equivalent female drivers over their lifetimes. So, when women go online to use the search engines for the best insurance rates, they are likely to be pleasantly surprised. The only strategy that men can adopt is to build up a trouble-free driving record over time. The longer male drivers go without picking up a ticket, the better. Savings will also flow from buying cheaper, less powerful cars and driving them less. Accepting mileage restrictions saves dollars on auto insurance premiums. In fact, men save money when they drive like women.

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