July 1, 2011

In our last post, we promised to share the more detailed results of a recent study. The study looked at gender differences in car accidents. Women did badly compared to men. Perhaps fortunately, the data was not broken down by state; there’s no way to tell if men rule the roads in Oregon.

The researchers looked at gender of driver and type of accident. If you think about the data as the kind of grid you put together for genetic traits in 10th grade biology, the columns would be male-male, male-female and female-female. The rows would be head-on collision, side swipe and turning in front of another car. When those results were determined, the data was parsed as if gender weren’t a factor.

In five of the six possible combinations, the two women drivers fared worse. (The report’s authors refer to it as being “over-represented.”) Female-female accidents occurred 50 percent more often in two scenarios. The difference was 25 percent (greater) for two other scenarios.

Male drivers crashing into male drivers was much less frequent (that is, men were “under-represented”) in four scenarios. Compared to the expected outcome — when gender was not a factor — men did better 20 percent of the time in two scenarios. They fared worse in two by just 20 percent.

When the researchers looked at the expected, non-gender results and the male-female driver combination, there wasn’t much of a difference.

According to the lead researcher, more study is needed to determine why these differences exist. Perhaps women find themselves in certain situations more often than men. Perhaps men are better equipped by training or by nature to handle certain situations.

In the end, a lot has to do with the individual driver’s ability and experience — and, at times, just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Source: University of Michigan News Service, “Women drivers involved more than men in certain kinds of crashes,” 06/09/2011



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