Crashes took 35,092 lives in the U.S. in 2015.
More men than women die each year in motor vehicle crashes. Men typically drive more miles than women and more often engage in risky driving practices including not using seat belts, driving while impaired by alcohol, and speeding. Crashes involving male drivers often are more severe than those involving female drivers. Li, G.; Baker, S.P.; Langlois, J.A.; and Kelen, G.D. 1998. Are female drivers safer? An application of the decomposition method. Epidemiology 9:379-84. However, when crashes of equal severity are examined by gender, females are more likely than males to be killed or injured. Bedard, M.; Guyatt, G.H.; Stones, J.J.; and Hirdes, J.P. 2002. The independent contribution of driver, crash, and vehicle characteristics to driver fatalities. Accident Analysis and Prevention 34:717-27. Evans, L. 2001. Age and fatality risk from similar severity impacts. Journal of Traffic Medicine 29:10-19. Evans, L. 2001. Female compared with male fatality risk from similar physical impacts. Journal of Trauma 50:281-88. Evans, L. and Gerrish, P.H. 2001. Gender and age influence on fatality risk from the same physical impact determined using two-car crashes (SAE 011174). Vehicle Aggressivity and Compatibility in Automotive Crashes (SP-1601). Warrendale, PA: Society of Automotive Engineers.
Since 1975 deaths among female passenger vehicle drivers have increased while male passenger vehicle driver deaths have changed little. The increase in female driver deaths can be explained by an increase in exposure. More women are licensed now than in the past. They drive more miles and are more likely to drive at night. The rate of fatal crashes per 100 million miles of travel for male and female drivers decreased similarly between 1977 and 2001 — a 48 percent decrease for female drivers and a 45 percent decrease for male drivers. Ferguson, S.A. and Braitman, K.A. 2006. Women's issues in highway safety: a summary of the literature. Research on Women's Issues in Transportation: Report of a Conference. Conference Proceedings 35; Volume 1: Conference Overview and Plenary Papers, 39-50. Washington, DC: Transportation Research Board.
The following facts are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).
From 1975 to 2005 male motor vehicle crash deaths declined 8 percent while female deaths increased 11 percent. Male deaths decreased fairly steadily from 1975 to 1992 and have risen slowly since 1992. Female deaths rose from 1975 until 1997 and remained steady through 2005. The increase in female motor vehicle crash deaths was largely due to a 75 percent increase in deaths of female passenger vehicle drivers since 1975. Deaths of male passenger vehicle drivers changed little during the same time period. Deaths have gone down among both male and female passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Since 1997 motorcyclist deaths more than doubled for both males and females.
Motor vehicle deaths by gender, 1975-2005
About one-third of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2005 were females. Females accounted for 29 percent of passenger vehicle driver deaths, 48 percent of passenger vehicle passenger deaths, 29 percent of pedestrian deaths, 12 percent of bicyclist deaths, and 10 percent of motorcyclist deaths.
From 1975 to 2005 the rate of passenger vehicle occupant deaths per 100,000 people decreased 9 percent among females and decreased 32 percent among males. During the same time period occupant death rates ranged from about 2 to 2 1/2 times higher for males than females.
Passenger vehicle occupant deaths per 100,000 people by gender, 1975-2005
The number of driver fatal crash involvements per 100 million miles traveled in 2001-02 was about 50 percent higher for males (2.5 per 100 million) than females (1.7 per 100 million). At all ages, except ages 60-69, rates were higher for males than females, but the gender difference was largest among driver ages 16-19.
In 2005 the rates of passenger vehicle occupant deaths per 100,000 people were higher among males than females for every age group except 0-15 years. The gender difference in fatality rates was greatest for occupants ages 20-24 and those 85 and older. Males ages 20-24 had the highest fatality rate, and fatality rates were lowest for males and females younger than 16.
From 1982 to 2005 the proportion of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers with blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) at or above 0.08 percent declined by 33 percent among males and 41 percent among females. Since 1985 the percentage of fatally injured male drivers with high BACs has been about twice that of female drivers.
©1996-2016, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute | www.iihs.org
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