A University of Michigan study found women to be bad dr... A University of Michigan study found women to be bad drivers (xJasonRogersx, Flickr).
A University of Michigan study of 6.5 million car crashes will undoubtedly be the source of many tense discussions around the kitchen table if not Vegas comedy riffs, finding that an inordinate number of accidents happen when both drivers are women.

Insert your own tired women-are-bad-drivers comment here. And if you post this story on your Facebook page, get ready for a commenta-palooza.

Michael Sivak, the study's principal author and a research professor who studies human factors in car accidents, is hesitant to come out and say women are worse drivers than men. But since men drive more miles every day than women, the neighborhood sexist will have a field day with this little bit of data.

Using the General Estimate System data from a nationally representative sample of police-reported crashes, the researchers expected to find that male-to-male crashes would account for 36.2% of accidents, female-to-female would make up 15.8% and male-to-female would make up 48% of crashes.

Instead, they found female-to-female accidents made up 20.5% of all crashes, much higher than expected. Male-to-male crashes were lower than expected, at 31.9%, and male-to-female crashes were 47.6%.

Why the discrepancy? The study doesn't offer any hard reasons. Women and men may have different experiences with different driving scenarios, have different abilities to handle those scenarios, and may feel like there are different expectations on their behavior.

It's essentially a nature vs. nurture argument, saying gender stereotypes dominate driving behavior: In other words, men do most of the driving, and women, who ride along as passengers, are less experienced or confident -- thus prone to wrecks.

But there could be another reason, the researchers say, so they're not ruling out any possibilities.
Are men better drivers than women?
Yes 20362 (66.9%)
No 6079 (20.0%)
They're equal 4010 (13.2%)


Intersections are particularly troublesome for women: They're often t-boned on the driver's side while trying to make a left turn, or are hit on the passenger side while trying to make a right-hand turn, the research shows.

Those crashes could be caused by height differences, the study says, because women tend to be shorter than men and have a harder time seeing out the windows. This issue is becoming worse, not better, with modern cars, as designers have been creating higher in-car "belt-lines," the height of the door relative to the driver before the window glass begins.

But besides being shorter, women may also have some brain differences that work against them. Some studies show men are better able to perceive time and speed and can more easily rotate 3-D figures in their brains, skills which are helpful enough to overcome other risky behaviors behind the wheel.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's tough to get the usual third party experts to weigh in on this study. Consumer Reports said it would pass on AOL Autos request for comment. Ford Motor Co., whose executive in charge of environmental and safety engineering is a woman, also passed on commenting.

A Ford spokesman did say that women order safety options on their cars at a much higher rate than men. Turns out that's a wise decision.

Every academic study, even those peer reviewed, has supporters and detractors.

Rather than looking at the national Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)-- which most safety advocates use because it is based on police-reported data from the most severe and most documented kinds of crashes, those that resulted in a death -- it uses the National Household Travel Survey for its mileage counts. That survey is conducted every decade or so, and asks drivers to keep a diary of their travel, which could be easily fudged. It also looks at a sampling of accident data from police records, which is not as comprehensive as the fatality database.

Plus, it doesn't mention the fact that women are more likely to be driving with children, who are among the biggest distractions in a car.

Sivak's research contradicts other studies like one in Britain that showed men take more risks and drive more powerful cars. That study also showed that although women also have their fair share of crashes, those accidents often happen at slower speeds, so they tend to be less severe.


Bottom Line: The University of Michigan study shows that crashes involving female drivers running into female drivers is higher than expected given the number of miles women drive versus men. While the study is interesting, and gives chauvinists and comedians fresh fodder to bash women drivers, there is plenty of room to challenge the study's validity.


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  • 503 Comments
      Drew
      • 4 Years Ago
      Its a well known fact that Men's Brains are more "wired / programmed" for "spatial vision thinking", which is what's needed for driving (and also for hunting). Women's brains are more wired for social interactions, nurturuing, language...etc. Even in traditional families (the few that the male-parent-bashing so-called Family Courts of NJ have not yet destroyed), most women prefer the husband to do the driving when they are travelling together. That's because they know the man is usually more skillful a driver, focused on the road, vs. the woman is a better "multi-tasker" talking on the phone, watching the baby in the car-seat... and more "scatterbrained" but that can lead to accidents.
      sjpxmas
      • 4 Years Ago
      WHEN SHE KNOWS SHE HAS TO STOP UP AHEAD SHE JUST DOESN'T PLAN FOR IT, SHE SLAMS ON HER BRAKES AT THE LAST SECOND, LIKE IT WAS A BIG SURPRISE SHE HAD TO STOP. THAN AT EVERY START UP SHE PUSHES DOWN ON THE GAS PEDAL TO MAKE MY HEAD SNAP BACK, WOMEN JUST DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE MECHANICS OF DRIVING. I TELL HER TO PLAN YOUR STOPS, TO COME TO A SMOOTH STOP, PRESS ON THE GAS SLOWLY TO MAKE A SMOOTH GET AWAY.. SHE JUST DOES NOT GET IT...
        Rebekah Dunwoody
        • 5 Months Ago
        @sjpxmas

        I've seen plenty of men do the exact same thing u r describing women doing, so u can't put that action all on women ....sorry bud

      • 4 Years Ago
      I am female and I agree with this article, but would have liked to have seen it seperated by age group. I have seen more female drivers under the age of 30 make some of the dumbest moves I have seen and I have been driving for many years. The only accident was when a male driver hit me from behind.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Most women are horrible drivers. No excuses! They are overly cautious and can't handle all of the distractions. 80% of them should just sit in the passenger seat, so they won't hurt anyone.
      Vanessa
      • 4 Years Ago
      Woman are always multi tasking doing 10 things at one time,(kids, shopping, doctors appts., activities for kids) and that's the reason they have more accidents. Trying to get everything done and keep everybody happy in one day. The"re not superwoman but sometimes have to be.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wait a minute, if you actually read the article it really says the percentages for women crashing into women is
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wait a minute. Did you all actually read the article? The percentages are still HIGHER for men than women. The author said they expected the women's percentages to be lower than they actually were but the men's percentages are STILL HIGHER than women's including driving around with kids.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Most women drive differently, along with the different cars (mini-vans, prius, etic.), and driving slower, they also drive more cautiously, which can be really annoying. This is where I think the stereotype comes from. There's a difference between driving cautiously and driving safely. Some take it too seriously. Like driving 20 miles below the speed limit on a highway in sunny weather. Women can be really annoying when they drive, and take note to how I said "can" and not "are". I take it as a joke, whenever I'm in the car with someone we might look at a bad driver and play a betting game against what gender for fun. Most of those videos on youtube with those 10 parkers are women. Funny to me, if you take it seriously like some annoying feminist then I don't care. There was some girl who took like 5 minutes to get in an easy parking spot (not even parallel) in a parking lot, and she took so long that the guy waiting there for most of the time got out of his car to help her, and it took him like 1 try and 10 seconds.
      TM
      • 4 Years Ago
      Flying a small airplane must be harder that driving a small car! Emilia Erhart took off in a small plane about 70 years ago and she still cannot find her way home!
      • 4 Years Ago
      My wife has to watch out for the texters that are not paying attention, the women driving there mini-van tailing her usually with kids in the car. We see more accidents waiting to happen because everyone seems to be in a hurry. Let's all slow down a little. Spend time with the kids and not the soccer field where so few really care about the sport. Prepare a meal plan over the weekend, so during the week it is not so hectic. Most things have a common sense approach.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Instead, they found female-to-female accidents made up 20.5% of all crashes, much higher than expected. Male-to-male crashes were lower than expected, at 31.9%, and male-to-female crashes were 47.6%." So, according to the research MALES were involved in more accidents (31.9%), female to female made up 20.5% of all crashes which was "higher than expected", NOT MORE than males. Did the writer miss the point of the research he quotes?
      LL
      • 4 Years Ago
      My daughter turned 16 last month and there was just no way we could afford to add her to our existing car insurance policy. I started shopping around for new car insurance and found this site: ( http://tinyurl.com/FreeRateReport ) I just put in my ZIP code and received four quotes instantly after filling out the form. By comparing rates we were actually able to include my daughter in our new policy and not pay anymore per month for car insurance than we were originally paying for just me and my wife!
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