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Men vs. Women: Who are the better drivers? Study shows two sides

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Most of us have seen that image of a frustrated male growling “women drivers” over some perceived mistake a woman has made behind the wheel.

Conversely, many of us have seen the TV commercial in which a young woman scoffs over a boyfriend’s contention that men are better drivers than women by flaunting her rebate check from an insurance company for safe driving.

male:female symbol Wikimedia Commons

Image / Wikimedia Commons

A Kansas State University study show that young men and

women may be locked into differing driving patterns.

Well, check out these statistics from a Kansas State University study. Researchers found several differences in the types of crashes between young men and women, including:

  • Young females were 66 percent more likely to wear a seat belt than young males.
  • Young females were 28 percent more likely to drive on a restricted license than young males.
  • Young female drivers had more crashes at intersections and collisions with pedestrians.
  • Young males had more crashes after sunset than young females.
  • Young female drivers were more likely to be involved in crashes during weekdays, while young male drivers were more likely to be involved in crashes during the weekend.
  • Young male drivers had more off-road crashes than young females.

Well, what to make of this information?

I’ll admit that, when I began reading the news release, I had some preconceived notions: Men are more likely to engage in risky behavior, for example having conversations including the phrase “Hey, hold my beer and watch this.”

But the news release didn’t mention alcohol use or other dangerous behaviors. And young female drivers and young male drivers seemed to perform about equally poorly in the results.

The researchers, Niranga Amarasingha and Sunanda Dissanayake of Kansas State University, reviewed records from the Kansas Accident Reporting System that covered the 138,3888 crashes occurring between 2007 and 2011, in which the drivers were between 15 and 24 years old, and in which the accidents involved injuries or moderate property damage.

Dissanayake said she hopes the findings contribute to an improved understanding of crashes as well as help develop educational materials targeted more toward young drivers and each gender.

“There are often different risk factors for young male and young female drivers because their behavior and attitude are generally different,” Dissanayake said. “This may help explain why one gender is more likely to be involved in a certain type of crash. For example, young males may have more off-road crashes because this crash type is more frequently involved with speeding on rural roads — a driving habit exhibited more by young males than young females.”

The value of the findings therefore would be to categorize the type of instruction emphasized to young drivers of a particular gender. “You guy need to buckle up more and quit racing down those back roads.” “You ladies need to be more careful as you navigate those intersections and watch out for people walking in the street.”

That is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but educating young people about their weaknesses and tendencies as drivers would help everyone. That will require a concerted effort to educate the instructors who teach young people to drive and encourage them to reinforce the study’s findings.