Worse drivers: Males or females?

Which group causes more accidents, drives drunk more often and is responsible for more traffic deaths? Take a look at government and auto insurance statistics.

[Related content: insurance, auto insurance, insurance companies, liability insurance, traffic tickets]
By Insure.com

Old stereotypes peg women as dangerous drivers, but statistics show the reality: When it comes to driving, guys are much more naughty. And insurance rates reflect that.

We can't say that all males are reckless when they drive. Nor can we say that all females are safe drivers. But numerous studies show that males are more likely than females to throw caution to the wind when on the road.

"Maybe the testosterone makes them more aggressive," jokes Loretta Worters, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute. "But the fact is, the industry doesn't go by whether you have higher testosterone. It goes by numbers, and the numbers seem to support that men are generally more reckless than women."

Scofflaws

Sorry, boys, but statistics show that you break traffic laws more often than females.

Quality Planning, a company that validates policyholder information for auto insurers, conducted a study that concluded males are at least 50% more likely to be cited for reckless driving, seat belt violations, speeding, failure to yield and stop sign/signal violations. To be more specific, the company analyzed an entire year of policyholder information in 2007 and found that males were cited for reckless driving 3.41 times as often as females.

Traffic violations:

ViolationsViolation ratio, males vs. females

Reckless driving

3.41-to-1

DUI

3.09-to-1

Seat belt violations

3.08-to-1

Speeding

1.75-to-1

Failure to yield

1.54-to-1

Stop sign/signal violations

1.53-to-1

"We were not surprised to see that men have slightly more -- about plus 5% -- violations that result in accidents than women," says Raj Bhat, the president of Quality Planning. "And because men are also more likely to violate laws for speeding, passing and yielding, the resulting accidents caused by men lead to more-expensive (insurance) claims than those caused by women."

The study also found that female drivers were about 27% less likely to be found at fault when involved in an accident.

Cruising and boozing

Males also drive drunk more often than females. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, males outnumbered females 4-to-1 when it came to driving under the influence. This is based on a study of DUIs from 1998 to 2007. However, the same study found that while more males have been busted for driving impaired, DUI arrests for males had decreased by nearly 20% during the study period, while they had increased by more than 14% among females.

Females' DUIs up 14.3%:

YearDUIsDrivers% with DUIs

1998

126,119

91,875,439

0.14%

2007

162,493

103,276,909

0.16%

Males' DUIs down 19.7%:

YearDUIsDrivers% with DUIs

1998

676,911

93,104,738

0.73%

2007

626,371

102,464,936

0.61%

Quality Planning's study found that males are 3.09 times as likely to drive under the influence of alcohol as females.

"It's probably one of the worst things you could get on your record," says Pete Moraga, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Network of California. "A DUI means you're going to pay more for insurance for a long time. Your rates will go up. It's possible that you could see a doubling of your rate."

Crash dummies

When it comes to car crashes, males have garnered much higher numbers than females. According to the latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, males were involved in roughly 6.1 million crashes in 2007, of which more than 40,000 were fatal. By comparison, females were involved in about 4.4 million crashes and logged about 14,000 fatal car accidents.

Car crashes:

Type of crashMalesFemales

Fatal

40,804

14,099

Injury

1.7 million

1.3 million

Property damage only

4.3 million

3 million

Total

6.1 million

4.4 million

Sources: U.S. Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2007.

"Women have a bad reputation for being bad drivers, but in most cases, from a safety point, they are better drivers," says Bob U'Ren, the senior vice president of Quality Planning.

Getting the bill

A variety of factors determine your auto insurance premium. Among other things, they include age, marital status, driving record, accident history, type of car you own, credit history, driving experience and how many miles you drive annually. Gender is often a factor as well.

Crash test: 1959 Chevy vs. 2009 Chevy

"But it's a small factor," Moraga says. "It can range from half a percentage point to 2 or 5 points. It depends on the insurance company, and it's mostly based on its own actuarial studies."

The California Department of Insurance's Web site features a tool designed to give people an idea of car insurance quotes from specific insurance companies. It calculates a generic quote -- based on the information you provide -- for every insurance company that operates in that state. Some insurance companies -- Farmer's, Geico, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, Progressive and State Farm -- display a price difference based on gender alone, and usually males pay more. A few charge females more.

Insurance costs:

 
Insurance companyPremium for a malePremium for a female

21st Century

$682

$674

AAA

$639

$648

Allstate

$741

$755

Esurance

$868

$862

Farmer's/Mid Century

$892

$804

Fireman's Fund

$860

$860

GEICO

$605

$579

The Hartford

$760

$772

Liberty Mutual

$1,272

$1,218

Nationwide

$665

$690

Progressive Choice

$740

$715

State Farm

$930

$877

Source: California Department of Insurance. Quote are based on a man or woman with liability coverage only, nine to 15 years of driving experience, who drives 7,600 to 10,000 miles per year, has no violations or accidents and lives in Culver City, Calif. This is a sample of insurance companies operating in the state. It is not an actual quote. Calculations are based on insurance company filings made with California.

"I think the bottom line is, whether you are male or female, what you pay for insurance is mostly based on your driving record," Moraga says.

The disadvantage of youth

Experts can only guess why males tend to drive more recklessly than females. This reckless streak is more prevalent in young men, and both men and women generally become better drivers as they age. Even insurance companies recognize that maturity pays off. Young drivers, generally between 16 and 25, are the riskiest drivers, and they pay for it in premiums.

Young male drivers are paying about 185% above their insurers' "base rate" for older male drivers, the Insurance Information Institute's Worters says (meaning the average rate charged before discounts and other adjustments, plus the insurance company's claims-processing fee). Young women pay about 120% above the base rate.

So no matter what gender you are, driving more safely benefits everyone -- and your wallet.

This article was reported by Kat Zeman for Insure.com.

Published Dec. 1, 2009

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009 9:19:05 PM
I don't know why they keep saying that the stereotype is that males are better drivers...I've always heard the exact opposite.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009 1:29:12 AM
not meOpen-mouthed
Wednesday, December 02, 2009 1:35:56 AM
Among other things, they include age, marital status, driving record, accident history, type of car you own, credit history, driving experience and how many miles you drive annually.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009 6:13:53 AM
Well it depends on how the they grouped everyone. Are they including commercial drivers? if so then they are more likely male dominent. I bet if it is only non comercial the tables would tiip.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009 6:48:05 AM
And notice who the statistics come from....insurance affiliated number crunchers.  Just like global warming, if you manipulate them enough, you can make the numbers look however you want.  How about some independent studies? 
Wednesday, December 02, 2009 7:31:18 AM
The worst drivers seem to be the women in suv's while on the phone they are clueless about what is going on around them.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009 8:14:53 AM
Really KUBE, you think the statistics are biased? I think most people know from personal experience that the insurance statistics are pretty accurate. As a teenager, I had two wrecks and two speeding tickets. As an adult, none. That maturity that's supposed to pay off; it did. I learned from my mistakes and am a better driver. And yes, although they do vary by people, like any generalization, they are pretty accurate. This has been proven by people not affiliated with the insurance industry. The insurance industry is highly regulated. Companies have to be able to validate their reasons for raising rates and charging different people different amounts of money. Just because a generalization doesn't apply to you doesn't make a generalization that is accurate enough to apply to a large group.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009 8:16:56 AM
The Worst drivers don't have a CDL.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009 8:22:35 AM
After driving 20 years as my job required I was able to witness safe and unsafe drivers. Women came in last. If I had the authority to stop drivers and write tickets,  and receive a percentage I would be wealthy. Violations are speeding, not coming to a full stop at intersections, Cell phones, makeup's, etc. Take away their licenses for a year and see how low the stats would change....
Wednesday, December 02, 2009 8:25:05 AM

I suppose the woman who hit me last month hasn't read this article yet.

 

Unfortunately, like most statistics we see, it is flawed.  I'd like to see what percent of drive time each gender has and add that into the statistics.  In my experience, most women drive less than men.  Partially because it's typically the man who picks up the girl and takes her somewhere.