If you grew up hearing “men are from Mars, women are from Venus,” then there’s a good chance you’ve heard other comparisons between men and women – and certainly one or two about their abilities behind the wheel of a car. They’re almost always stereotypes, and they rarely imply anything good about either sex.
But the truth is that are some real differences between males and females when it comes to traffic accidents. The IIHS reviewed data between male and female drivers. They found that male drivers are more likely to be in severe collisions than female drivers, and more likely to be in fatal accidents.
What do the trends show?
Reports from 1975 to 2020 show that male car accident deaths were twice as high as female car crash deaths. Overall, however, there was a decline in fatalities for both sexes. Male collision deaths dropped by 14% and female crash deaths by 10% over the same period.
According to IIHS, “Seventy-two percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2020 were males. Males accounted for 72 percent of passenger vehicle driver deaths, 50 percent of passenger vehicle passenger deaths, [and] 98 percent of large truck driver deaths.”
Outside of motor vehicles, males make up 71% of pedestrian deaths, 92% of motorcycle deaths, and 87% of cyclist deaths. (Note: motorcycle deaths have increased by 70% for both groups starting in 1975. While there was a decrease, male crash deaths are still higher, between 20 and 30 thousand per year over the last 40 years. Female crash deaths stayed consistently between 10 and 15 thousand per year.)
How age raises car accident risks
Age is another vital factor in the number of deaths compared between males and females. Between 2016 and 2017, fatal crashes involving males were 63% higher than for their female counterparts. When considering age, fatality risks were highest in the 16-29 age range. The most significant difference was between 20 and 29-year-old drivers. (As we age, chances are we learn from experience and change our driving habits.)
In 2020, the numbers and trends varied slightly. Collision fatality rates were still higher for men than women. This is for every age group excluding 0 to 15-year-olds. The male age groups with the highest chance of death in a crash were 20 to 24-year-olds and those over 85.
Alcohol is a contributing factor in vehicle deaths
Alcohol and drugs impair drivers substantially. Historically, more male drivers than female drivers are killed in drunk driving accidents by a substantial margin. In 2020, for example, there were 4,351 male drivers killed compared to 1,192 female divers killed due to alcohol impairment.
While these numbers are high, they are much lower than they have been in previous years. For example, in 1982 (the first year of IIHS’s data), 15,129 male drivers died in drunk driving crashes, compared to 4,534 female drivers. We assume that the number of deaths has decreased for a variety of reasons, including better safety tech in cars. Another reason could be seat belts. Alabama made it illegal to drive or ride in a car without a seat belt in 1991, which could account for some of the drop off.
What does all this data about sexes and driving tell us?
We can extrapolate a few things from the IIHS data. First, it appears that male drivers are more likely to engage in risky driving behaviors like driving drunk or speeding. If this is true, then logically, these drivers may be more likely to crash their vehicles, and therefore more likely to sustain severe or fatal injuries.
But according to IIHS, “females are more likely than males to be killed or injured in crashes of equal severity,” even if they are less likely to cause them. This is corroborated by Verity Now, which claims that “studies show that death rates for women can range from 9% to 28% higher than men, and that women are more than 73% more likely to be injured in a vehicle crash than are men.”
So the question is, why? There are a few potential answers:
- Most manufacturers are still using outdated crash test dummies, which are largely designed like males who are about 5’9” and 170lbs. This means that all the safety tech in the world may not make a difference in a catastrophic crash because it cannot protect the female body the way it protects a specific type of male body.
- Women are more likely to drive lighter, smaller vehicles. Even the SUVs they choose tend to be smaller. This could offer less protection in that the steel frames of the vehicle may be lighter and more prone to breakage. The crumple zones would likely be smaller, too.
- Female bodies are shaped differently. In an interview with CNN, Astrid Linder – an engineer and the research director of traffic safety at the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute – explained that “females have more injuries to the spine and to the hips, which makes perfect sense because, females have broader hips, wider pelvises, and they sit closer to the steering wheel to get to the steering wheel and to the pedals.”
What should you do after a Huntsville car accident?
After a car accident, injury victims must get medical attention immediately. Some injuries have a delayed onset, while others appear instantly. Fatalities can happen at the scene from an initial or subsequent impact. In other cases, a fatality can occur when injuries are so severe that the person cannot survive and dies at the hospital hours, days, or weeks later. Medical attention is nonnegotiable after the Huntsville car accident.
Another nonnegotiable should be seeking legal assistance from Martin & Helms. Our car accident lawyers in Huntsville have years of experience handling all manner of vehicle-related injury cases. We will investigate the cause of the accident and hold responsible parties accountable for your losses.
We also know that losing a loved one in such a tragedy is more than many families can handle. It can feel as though you’ve become unmoored. When you cannot afford to take time to grieve because you are dealing with mounting medical bills and you’ve lost your health insurance, or because you cannot work, it can feel like you’ve nowhere to turn. We cannot bring your loved one back, but we can help you get justice. We can file a wrongful death claim if someone’s negligent actions killed your loved one.
Families have options if a negligent person is responsible for their loved one’s death. If a car accident did not result in death but did result in injuries, victims have options. You should discuss your legal options with a Huntsville car accident lawyer. You can visit our offices in Huntsville or Decatur, Alabama. We serve injured clients in Athens, Madison, and North Alabama. Call Martin & Helms or complete our contact form today.