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Trends in fatal crashes involving female drivers, 1975-1998

Mayhew, Daniel R.; Ferguson, Susan A.; Desmond, Katharine J.; Simpson, Herbert M.
Accident Analysis and Prevention
May 2003

Since the mid-1980s there has been concern about the growing number of female drivers in the US involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes, and similar trends have been noted in other parts of the world. The present study examined whether this trend has continued into the 1990s and the reasons for it. Fatal crash data were obtained from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), mileage data from the National Personal Transportation Survey, and licensure data from the Federal Highway Administration. Many more women were licensed to drive in 1998 than in 1975, and on average they drove more miles. When changes in total annual mileage were taken into account, per-mile crash rates decreased similarly for men and women (about 40%). An examination of the characteristics of their fatal crashes revealed that male and female drivers have seen similar reductions in single-vehicle, nighttime, and alcohol-related crashes. However, men continue to be involved more often in these types of crashes.