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Are men or women better drivers? Depends on your definition.

Mile for mile, women crash more often but men cause more mayhem.
It's an old debate, peppered by sexist assumptions and selective anecdotes. Women are bad drivers - that ditzy lady almost caused a wreck. Men are bad drivers - that macho maniac almost ran me over.

Even the scientists don't agree. Do male drivers have better reactions? Do female drivers avoid dangerous situations in the first place? Both might be true. One thing is not debatable - male drivers under the age of 30 are far more likely to seriously harm themselves or others with a car. They pay more for insurance ... and we all pay a price for their risky driving.ManWomanDriving(2).jpg

Male drivers vs. female drivers - car accidents by the numbers

The gender breakdown of licensed drivers in the U.S. is roughly equal, but men spend much more time behind the wheel. The average male driver logs 16,550 miles per year, compared to 10,142 for the average female driver. This has advantages and disadvantages. The more miles one drives, the greater the odds of being involved in a crash. On the other hand, the more you drive, the more experience and confidence you gain, which may prove crucial in a road danger scenario.

Women are more dangerous drivers? According to Federal Highway Administration, women as a group are slightly more crash-prone - 5.7 accidents per million miles compared to 5.1 accidents for males. There are many theories for this, from biological to sociological. Female drivers are not as tall, which may affect field of vision. Women are more likely to have children on board, which can be distracting. Women's reflexes are slightly slower. And so on.

There is no credible research to indicate that women are inherently inferior at controlling a motor vehicle. But researchers were stumped when accident data showed that female drivers are notably more likely to collide with other female drivers - more than statistical chance would predict. Perhaps their approach to driving - women in general are more cautious and less assertive - contributes to collisions in some way?

Men are more dangerous drivers? While men drive 62 percent of all miles, male drivers are responsible for 75 percent of auto fatalities, according to the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

Not surprisingly, men account for 91 percent of motorcycle deaths and 99 percent of truck driver deaths. That's just demographics. But males are disproportionately represented in alcohol-related deaths, speed-related fatalities, road rage incidents and other high-risk behaviors. Men get more DUIs and traffic citations, including tickets for texting while driving. Apparently, men take more risks even when crossing the street - 69 percent of pedestrian deaths are male.

What do you think?

Are men or women superior drivers? Are you surprised by any of these statistics? Is it fair that all guys pay higher insurance rates because of a few bad apples? Share this post with your friends and family ... and be careful out there!

Sources: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (iihs.org), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (nhtsa.gov), Federal Highway Administration (fhwa.dot.gov)

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