Fatal crashes: Are men or women at greater risk?

We make countless choices when it comes to how we can stay safe behind the wheel. We research and buy safe cars, put our seat belts on and obey traffic laws. But there is one thing we don’t choose which can affect our crash and injury risks: our gender.

Male vs. female by the numbers

Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) reveals some significant differences between crashes involving women and crashes involving men.

For instance, statistics from 2020 show the following:

  • 72 percent of fatal crash victims were men
  • Drunk driving contributed to 33 percent of fatal accidents involving men and 23 percent involving women
  • Speeding contributed to 30 percent of fatal crashes involving men compared to 20 percent involving women
  • In crashes of equal severity, women are more likely to be killed, especially at younger ages
  • Accidents involving men are generally more severe than those involving women
  • The widest gap between male and female drivers were among drivers 20-24 years old

Based on this information, we can glean some valuable insights. These numbers suggest that men are more likely to be killed in an accident involving reckless, preventable behaviors like speeding and drunk driving, but women have a higher fatality risk.

Further, fatalities were highest for both men and women ages 20-24, with another increase at age 80.

Reasons behind these trends

There are several reasons why men can be disproportionately at risk of fatal crashing. However, some of the more commonly cited reasons focus on men driving more than women and being more aggressive behind the wheel.

Further, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that men are 10 percent less likely to wear their seat belts, leaving them at greater risk of catastrophic injuries in a collision.

Crucial takeaways for drivers

Being mindful of these trends can help drivers make informed, safe choices when they drive, regardless of gender. Recognizing how dangerous reckless driving can be, could help everyone avoid these behaviors.

This disparity between men and women may be improving thanks to efforts from many groups. For instance, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that strong federal regulations have dramatically decreased the gap between female and male fatal crash victims.

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