Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that decades ago, some women never learned to drive. When cars first became commonplace in the early 1900s, women drivers were few. Only during and after World War II did more and more American women learn to drive and embrace it. Now, women drivers are as common as male motorists. Yet, women drivers face increased risks of suffering injuries or dying in car accidents. Why is that though?
Women drivers and accident injury risks
According to a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, here are some reasons that women face a greater risk of suffering an injury or death in a car crash:
- Women are more likely to drive smaller vehicles. When examining crash data from 1998-2015, IIHS discovered that in police-reported car accidents, 70% of women were in passenger cars while only 60% of men were. Also, 20% of men were in pickups while only 5% of women were. When you are in a smaller vehicle, you are more likely to sustain an injury in an accident with a larger vehicle because of the force involved.
- On average, women are shorter than men, forcing them to sit closer to the steering wheel and dash. This position puts them more at risk for suffering leg and chest injuries in a crash.
- Men are more likely to cause rear-end accidents and front-to-side (T-bone) accidents. When a driver causes those types of crashes, the driver is less likely to suffer an injury.
- Auto designs have safety features that accommodate for the size of men more than women. In fact, most U.S. crash testing is done without a female-sized crash test dummy in the driver’s seat.
Safe driving tips
For men and women drivers both, the best ways to reduce your risks of being involved in a car accident are to:
- Avoid distracted driving.
- Avoid drinking and driving.
- Always wear your seatbelt.
- Follow the speed limit. The National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration reports that 10,000 vehicle accident fatalities a year are the result of speeding.
- Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Allow for one car length of space between your vehicle and the one in front of it for every 10 miles per hour of the speed limit. For example, you should have five car lengths of space between you and the car in front of you if you are traveling 50 miles per hour.
By following the rules of the road and practicing defensive driving techniques, drivers can greatly reduce their risks of being involved in a devastating crash – whether they are male or female.