Are women better drivers than men?

a man and woman in the front seats of a car discussing who are better drivers

If there’s something that reignites the classic gender debate, it’s the question over who are better drivers. It can be a bit tongue-in-cheek, a little irrational, and sometimes even a heated discussion, but it’s something that many organizations and industry bodies have considered. This week, Kwiksure takes a look at what studies have said about female drivers over the years, and finds some trends that have remained constant over time.

Studies into the driving behaviour of drivers

Women have often had to play catch up to men in a lot of respects. They had to fight for their right to vote in virtually every country, and the right to be paid fairly and equally remains ongoing. Similarly the right to be respected behind the wheel also remains. In 1975, Lella Lombardi became only the second female ever to race in the Formula One, yet still had to weather the extra pressure of negative stereotypes attributed to women drivers.

The research, however, shows that women are actually safer drivers than their male counterparts. Here are a few key findings from studies over the years:

Road Safety Foundation

The Road Safety Foundation in 1998 found that men had a higher proportion of their accidents on bends, overtaking, and after dark, while women experienced more accidents at junctions. Men had a higher fatality risk than women, due in part to their willingness to adopt faster speeds, commit more driving violations, to drink or take drugs and drive, and to drive longer hours.

Social Issues Research Centre

A Social Issues Research Centre paper, published in 2004, also looked at driver behaviour between genders and assessed how differing levels of risk each’s attitudes towards driving might impact insurance. It found that males were more likely to take risks, exhibit aggression, and seek thrilling sensations when driving. It linked the behaviours to evolutionary psychology; a “hard-wiring” of traits in men to act more recklessly.

AAMI Young Driver Index

The AAMI 2012 Young Driver Index looked at more specific behaviours and found that women were more likely to engage in attention diverting actions whilst driving. These included taking phone calls, reading or sending text messages, or even putting on makeup. It links this to the often touted generalization that women can multitask whilst men cannot.

The AAMI were also responsible for a 2009 survey that indicated that the female brain gave drivers an advantage in terms of self-awareness and social responsibility. However, spacial relationships were more of a challenge for women than for men. Somewhat cheekily, this was said to prove that while women were better drivers, they were not better at parking.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Finally, an annual statistics report by the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has highlighted that, in the US, many more men die in motor vehicle crashes a year than women do. In fact, the study has found that every year from 1975 through to 2015 men have outnumbered women in terms of crash deaths. Of all the vehicle crash deaths in 2014, men were said to be responsible for 71% of the total.

Key behavioural differences between men and women

When it comes to men and women, a common understanding throughout all of the studies over the years has been about the psychological approach to driving. The themes of the studies above included:

 

The Good

The Bad

The Ugly

Men

  • Good spacial awareness
  • Quickly understands the technical aspects of driving
  • Greater confidence behind the wheel
  • Speeds more
  • Commits more traffic violations
  • More aggressive
  • More likely to drink or use drugs whilst driving
  • More likely to cause an accident
  • More like to die in an accident

Women

  • Greater self-awareness and social responsibility
  • Less likely to engage in risky actions
  • Less likely to drink or use drugs
  • Lower sense of spacial awareness
  • More likely to be distracted by a mobile phone
  • More susceptible to the Stereotype Threat
  • More likely to cause a crash based on a slip or lapse in concentration
  • Less confidence during licensing leads to lower pass rates

 

Generally, women are deemed to be safer drivers than men, whilst men are said to be more technically skilled at driving than women. The behaviours and psychology studied in both genders is said to be one of the biggest influencing factors in why men and women drive differently.

So who really are the better drivers?

Unfortunately, there’s no real answer to this. It all really depends on what your definition of a “better driver” is. Are we talking about those who drive safely? Those who always follow the road rules? Do we judge based on technical ability behind the wheel? Those who can park and corner better? What about those who cause less crashes or fatalities? The way we could measure such a question is endless.

In the context of insurance, “better drivers” are those who are less risky. This is because there’s less chance of an insurance company needing to pay out for a vehicle claim if the driver is safe and follows the rules. In this respect, you might say that women are better behind the wheel. Indeed, some insurance companies definitely believe so. In fact, Europe had to ban insurers from offering cheaper insurance to females in 2013.

Yet, some insurance companies still offer insurance discounts and savings to drivers who are safer; of which women are without a doubt the biggest benefactors. Despite this, the UK’s Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency still has only 381 driving test examiners that are female. That’s out of a total of 1,395. Even though the stats don’t lie, women still find themselves playing catch up when it comes to overcoming negative driving stereotypes.

Do females get cheaper insurance in Hong Kong?

Even though females are statistically less risky than men are when driving, there are no specific discounts that are applied in Hong Kong to female drivers only. That said, women generally do pay less than men for car insurance overall because they’re less likely to need to claim. This is also due, in part, to the fact that women often drive less than men too.

What anyone can get in Hong Kong is a pretty significant No Claims Discount (NCD) for driving without being involved in an accident. This can be as high as 60% for long term policy holders. This discount can be transferred to Hong Kong for overseas drivers, and some policies have protection clauses that aren’t affected by minor accidents. You can also transfer your NCD from one car to the next, in the event you buy a new vehicle.

Kwiksure: the insurance broker for better drivers

When it comes to insurance, the best way to get either a third-party or comprehensive plan is to go through an insurance broker. Hong Kong’s Kwiksure is an experienced broker that has been delivering robust solutions to hundreds of thousands of drivers. Our team of expert consultants are also drivers, and know everything there is to know about driving and insurance in Hong Kong.

Whatever your insurance needs, contact the team at Kwiksure today!

 

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