If you were to ask just about any random person on the street, they’d probably say that men tend to be better drivers than women. It’s not clear how this misconception began, but there’s plenty of evidence out there to refute it.
While few people would argue with the fact that men tend to be more mechanically inclined – and, as such, more knowledgeable about how cars work – the truth is that in terms of safety, female drivers have male drivers beat by a considerable margin. Not convinced? We’ve culled the darkest depths of the Internet – including some very prominent sources – to bring you 13 definitive reasons why women are better drivers than men; check them out below.
1. Men feel like they “own the road”
According to a New York City traffic study, a participant is quoted regarding the tendency of men to feel like they “own the road.” While there is no definitive way to quantify how many men feel this way, virtually anyone who has been a passenger in a car driven by a guy can attest to this fact.
Many of the aggressive behaviors that men exhibit while behind the wheel could very well stem from their belief that the road is “theirs.” In turn, disregard for other drivers results in higher numbers of accidents and fatalities. Women tend to be more comfortable with the concept of sharing the road with others, and don’t tend to be possessive or territorial about their driving habits.
In an article about a New York City traffic study that generally shows 80 percent of all serious pedestrian accidents were caused by male drivers, the New York Times quotes a respondent who cites motherly instincts as being a major advantage that women have over men.
Most people would agree that the majority of women are born with innate, nurturing instincts. Those instincts could make women more conscientious about being safe drivers. Most women have a natural tendency to want to protect those around them.
Therefore, they are more likely to be defensive drivers and to steer as clear of accident-causing behaviors as possible. Being a caring mother may pay off to becoming a caring, and therefore safer, driver.
3. Scantily clad women are a distraction
During the summer months, women are commonly seen walking around in decidedly skimpy attire. Some drivers tend to have a more difficult time keeping their eyes on the road when scantily-clad women walk by – and it’s fairly easy to surmise who they are. ABC News highlighted a study by the British car insurance agency Sheilas’ Wheels* that reports some very interesting facts about male drivers’ focus on the road during the summer.
According to the study, approximately 29 percent of men report having trouble keeping their attentions on the road when skimpily-attired women pass them by. Needless to say, female drivers don’t tend to have the same issue. More tellingly, men file about 16% more insurance claims during the summer than women do.
4. Women have fewer accidents
Male drivers often insist that they have more skill and finesse on the road than female drivers do. This may be true, but proving or disproving such a claim is virtually impossible. What can be quantified, though, are accident statistics. According to Quality Planning (an insurance statistics company), their study shows that male drivers are significantly more likely to cause accidents than female drivers are.
Most people would agree that accidents are definite signs of being not-so-skilled behind the wheel – after all, accident-prone drivers put all other drivers at risk every time they hit the road. As popular as the stereotype of the fender-bender-causing female may be, the stats show that men have a lot more problems in that area.
5. Women have longer attention spans
Recently, a whole lot of attention has been giving to the dangers of texting while driving. Prior to that, a huge movement about the dangers of talking on cell phones while driving was conducted. Taking your attention away from the road is definitely a recipe for disaster, and it stands to reason that those with shorter attention spans are more likely to experience problems in that department.
The University of Bradford study suggests that estrogen tends to give women much longer attention spans than men. Despite the popular stereotype of female drivers who apply makeup and perform other frivolous tasks behind the wheel, it is clear that women tend to be able to focus more carefully on important matters.
6. Women are better at learning and obeying rules
According to the same study above, women have a much better ability to learn rules than men do. This fact is also attributed to the hormone estrogen, and could explain why female drivers tend to be cited for far fewer traffic violations than men. The fact that women have a natural tendency to absorb and obey the rules could make them safer, and better, drivers.
7. Women break fewer traffic laws than men
According to the same study by Quality Planning*, women tend to break fewer traffic laws than their male counterparts. The fact that male drivers are more like to wave away traffic laws as being silly or superfluous is undeniably dangerous. Such laws are in place to maintain order and safety on the road. The study shows that statistically, men are much more likely to be cited for a litany of traffic violations.
A few top examples include reckless driving, DUIs, speeding, failure to yield and stop sign/signal violations. If you see a guy driving around, it’s a lot more likely that he’ll cause a serious accident by disobeying traffic laws than it would be if he were a female driver.
The fact that women tend to outlive men is pretty much common knowledge. According to the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University*, 85 percent of those who live beyond the age of 100 are women. The article highlights several reasons for this; one of them involves the famously dangerous and aggressive behaviors of teenage males and guys in their twenties.
The so-called “testosterone storm” that occurs during that age period surely has a significant impact on male driving habits. Women, of course, don’t have to cope with testosterone-fueled behavior shifts. As a result, they are much more likely to live through their teenage and young adult years; safer habits and behaviors, including those behind the wheel, help women outlive men by 5 to 10 years, on average.
9. Women have fewer driving-related fatalities
The Insurance Information Institute* brings additional information to light regarding the driving habits of men versus those of women. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, male drivers are significantly more likely to be involved in fatality-causing accidents than women are.
Aggressive driving habits tend to be at the center of this phenomenon. Risk of fatalities between both sexes tends to go down as drivers’ ages go up, further reinforcing the concept that aggressive and risk-taking behaviors – which tend to be the provenance of the young and unskilled – trigger more deaths than anything else on the road.
10. Men aren’t the only race car drivers
NASCAR fans will attest that the fact that the vast majority of race car drivers are men signifies that men are more skilled behind the wheel. You’d have to be living under a rock, though, to be unaware of the fact that there is one glaring exception to this rule. Her name is Danica Patrick, and she’s proven to be one of the most skilled race car drivers out there.
In addition to participating in NASCAR/ARCA racing, Patrick has been a prominent fixture on the IndyCar Series for some time, and the first woman ever to win an Indy race, and recently placed 3rd in the Indianapolis 500. While some would argue that one female driver amid hundreds of guys doesn’t mean a whole lot, the fact remains that men do not hold a strict monopoly in the world of auto racing.
11. Women are more likely to wear seatbelts
While buckling a seatbelt isn’t necessarily a sure sign of driving prowess, it does indicate a more conscientious approach to operating a motor vehicle. Several studies, including the one from SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving) notes that about 12.5% of male students admit to rarely or never using seatbelts. That’s compared with about 7.8% of female students.
Having the wherewithal to use a seatbelt is a clear demonstration that a driver takes safety on the road seriously. Most would agree that safety on the road is a clear indication of skill behind the wheel.
Drinking and driving is one of the leading causes of traffic accidents and fatalities* according to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). The aforementioned NYC traffic study touches upon the fact that men are more likely to take drugs and drink before getting behind the wheel. A huge amount of evidence exists, such as the Michigan Drunk Driving Audit, to support the fact that men are much more likely to be arrested and convicted of DUIs than women.
Again, this concept could be tied to men’s sense of power and control over the road, and to their more aggressive tendencies in general. The fact that women are more reluctant to drive while impaired reinforces the concept that they are safer, more conscientious drivers than men.
13. Testosterone leads to aggression
Despite the widespread belief that an overabundance of testosterone may lead to aggressive behavior, many recent studies, such as one by the New York Academy of Sciences*, suggest that a deficiency of the famous male hormone may be behind more aggressive behavior.
Evidence about such a link is still unclear, but there is definitely a fundamental difference in the way that men and women behave in many scenarios. Since aggressive driving tends to be a higher problem among male drivers, there’s a very real possibility that testosterone is somehow to blame.
Do the preceding points definitively prove that women are better drivers than men? Not necessarily. When considered on a case-by-case basis, it’s easy to refute or downplay those points. When taken as a whole, though, they present a very compelling argument for the fact that women tend to be safer, more conscientious – and better – drivers. Regardless of how much evidence exists – and continues to crop up – there’s no doubt that the never-ending battle between the sexes will continue. As long as men and women exist, that battle will never be definitively won. If you have a choice between being driven around by a woman or a man, though, you should probably hedge your bets and stick with the female driver.
Do you agree or disagree? Let your thoughts be heard in the comments area at the end of this page: