Our most recent pop quiz in SC-200 included a blog post from the past where the author wrote about the differences between male and female study habits and grades. On my long, peaceful stroll back to my dorm from class, I reflected on this. I began to ponder about other proven differences between males and females. I immediately remembered a conversation I had with my parents at the dinner table: I have a twin brother, and we began driving at the same time. However, my car insurance cost less than my brother’s. We were the exact same age with the exact same amount of driving experience. We even shared the same car. Why did his insurance cost more than mine? Why was the risk my twin brother posed as a driver greater than the risk I posed as an eighteen year old female driver?
I have no personal opinion as to whether guys are better drivers than girls. But I’m curious to see what the statistics say.
According to DMV.Org, a website independent of government agencies, there are many statistics that support the increased insurance rate for males. First, over 70% of deaths resulting from car accidents were caused by males in 2012. Young female passengers were slightly more likely to wear seat belts than young men. Nearly 40% of males who died behind the wheel were driving while intoxicated, and for women it was only 20%. Also, men who died in car accidents were almost twice as likely to have been speeding than women. The article also interestingly states that men are more likely to buy cars that cost more to insure than the cars women buy.
One confounding variable could be the tendency of each gender to consume alcohol.
According to a study conducted that I found on the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, men are simply more likely to drink, and to drink more heavily, than women. Women were more likely to refrain from drinking all together than men.
So, great. Young men are more likely to get in accidents than women in many different ways. But why? Is it something biological? Does it have to do with decision making or attention span?
Based on observing my father and mother drive for my entire life, my hypothesis is that (young) men might have more confidence while driving than (young) women and therefore drive with less caution. My dad seems entirely more sure of himself than my mom does sometimes, and my dad tends to take more risks behind the wheel than my mom.
However, I also think that young women might have more ways to get distracted behind the wheel, so the causes for their crashes are more likely to be distractions than dangerous driving. For example, I often see girls adjusting their hair or fixing their nails or doing their makeup behind the wheel. These distractions could be confounding variables. But these variables would make female crashes more likely than male crashes, right? So why are young men crashing more, and paying more for insurance?
Olga Khazan of The Atlantic wrote about a study conducted and published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Car accidents among 16-18 year old drivers who were either driving by themselves or with 14-20 year old passengers were examined. They essentially determined a few categories of causes for the accidents including car-interior distractions like cell phone use, car-exterior distractions, aggressive driving, inability to focus on driving, and reckless driving/illegal actions performed behind the wheel, such as going through stop signs.
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Surprisingly, aggressive driving was the main cause for male drivers to crash more–when there was a female in the car with them. So basically, male drivers attempt to impress females with aggressive driving, which causes them to crash! To any boys out there who think I would be impressed by dangerous driving–I’ll walk, thanks. Male drivers also experienced more interior-car distractions when there was a female inside the car. They were more distracted when by themselves, however, than when they were driving with other boys. The chart on The Atlantic indicates, though, that they were more likely to do illegal things while driving with other guys in the car.
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Females weren’t likely to ever drive aggressively according to the study, and were more likely to get distracted by car-interior distractions if a male was present in the car with them.
The article suggests that a confounding variable for the study might be increased texting behind the wheel.
A simple conclusion I was able to draw from all of these stats is that opposite sexes seem to really distract each other in the car. Teenage hormones, I suppose, are to blame. Young males are often more dangerous drivers because they are more likely to attempt to impress others with their driving. For some reason, they tend to think that dangerous driving is impressive. Hm. Boys will be boys!