For years, it's been the same argument. Men are better drivers than women. Despite the lack of any real proof, there are few men that would honestly put their hands on their hearts and admit that their wives or girlfriends were better drivers than they are.
So, who is more likely to get a traffic violation? Or be in a fatal accident? When the question is asked that way, it might give even the most proud male driver a moment of pause.
Insurance companies have already made up their minds on the matter - and they have the data to back it up.
"All the evidence points to young males having riskier driving habits than young females. Men between the ages of 16 and 25 are much more likely to be involved in accidents, or be cited for traffic violations," explains Insurance.com VP, Sam Belden. "Insurance companies bear this kind of behavior in mind when quoting rates."
Insurance.com's own data supports this, too. Based upon information provided by consumers in the first half of 2008, Insurance.com reports that 68% of women have no traffic violations versus 64% of men.
Of those reporting violations, 30% of women have 1-3 traffic violations versus 33% of men, and 2% of women have 4+ traffic violations versus 3% of men.
According to TrafficSTATS, a risk analysis study by Carnegie Mellon for AAA in 2007, men have a 77% higher risk of dying in an accident compared to women. The study, using information from both the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the National Household Travel Survey estimated fatalities per 100 million trips to be 14.61 for men and 6.53 for women. The total number of fatalities between 1999 and 2005 were 175,094 for men and 82,371 women.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 14,512 male drivers died in 2007 compared to 5,865 female drivers, and even though there tend to be more male drivers on the road than females, the numbers strongly support the TrafficSTATS report.
Males aged 20 to 24 were more likely to die in an accident, while females aged 16-19 were slightly more likely to be killed than females 20-24. Many auto insurance industry experts would agree with the theory that males, especially young men, tend to drive more aggressively than women and display their aggression in a direct manner, rather than indirectly. And, experts agree that male drivers break the law more, and take more risks when driving.
On the flip side, IIHS also reported that from 1975 to 2007, female deaths in motor vehicle crashes increased 1 percent compared to an 11 percent decline for male motorists during that same period. IIHS attributes this to "increased exposure" with more women licensed now than in the past.
Although younger drivers are more likely to pay more for their car insurance, it's not always driving habits that make the difference. Many other things are taken into consideration by insurance companies, not always in a bad way.
"It's important to bear in mind that not every insurance company evaluates risk in exactly the same way," reports Belden. "This makes it even more important for younger drivers, of both genders, to compare rates before buying. There could be a considerable difference in premium between one company and another."
The argument is likely to continue, but as far as car insurance companies are concerned - for now, at least - young men are the riskier drivers.
According to data provided by IDriveSafely.com, a provider of online driving courses, the split between males and females completing such courses favors males by 55% to 45% in 2008. This is across all age groups, and includes those drivers seeking potential discounts on their car insurance policies. The percentage of males taking courses has been steadily increasing over the last five years. Does this mean that men realize that they need more help than women? Are they becoming safer drivers because of this?
Are the car insurance companies right to consider young male drivers a greater risk?
Do you think that's fair? Do you have stories about terrible women drivers that you'd like to share? Or really good, safe male drivers?
Let us know, and in a future article, we'll share some of the best!
One of our newsletters should arrive in your inbox soon - keep an eye out for it!