Gender | 2005

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).

Trends

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

Motor vehicle crash deaths by type and gender, 1975-2005
Year Passenger vehicle driver deaths Passenger vehicle passenger deaths Pedestrian deaths Bicyclist deaths Motorcyclist deaths Total motor vehicle deaths*
Male Female Male Female Male Female Male Female Male Female Male Female
1975 15,706 3,642 6,069 5,095 5,196 2,319 820 183 2,863 243 32,675 11,844
1976 16,013 4,078 6,206 5,330 5,120 2,307 751 163 2,950 282 33,038 12,481
1977 16,499 4,442 6,242 5,542 5,331 2,400 730 192 3,676 328 34,627 13,248
1978 17,974 4,782 6,373 5,659 5,494 2,296 714 178 4,059 389 36,731 13,591
1979 18,273 4,836 6,430 5,388 5,701 2,391 759 173 4,295 417 37,588 13,498
1980 18,110 4,876 6,439 5,438 5,613 2,454 782 183 4,524 430 37,392 13,688
1981 17,592 4,910 5,972 5,077 5,459 2,332 748 181 4,348 389 35,930 13,161
1982 15,128 4,534 5,297 4,609 5,144 2,185 720 144 3,933 334 31,877 12,062
1983 14,619 4,716 5,022 4,699 4,775 2,050 700 130 3,800 299 30,498 12,084
1984 14,933 5,365 5,094 4,604 5,016 2,005 684 153 4,076 349 31,541 12,707
1985 14,767 5,288 5,009 4,704 4,671 2,133 732 137 4,074 341 30,959 12,856
1986 15,935 5,564 5,667 4,931 4,771 2,004 789 140 4,002 305 32,856 13,191
1987 16,133 6,022 5,782 5,093 4,777 1,967 826 114 3,526 306 32,621 13,757
1988 16,744 6,140 5,815 5,293 4,756 2,111 773 128 3,255 235 32,947 14,123
1989 16,284 6,269 5,562 5,408 4,594 1,959 696 126 2,790 240 31,338 14,232
1990 15,901 6,049 5,587 5,061 4,495 1,985 732 121 2,888 240 30,916 13,665
1991 14,824 5,727 5,231 4,904 3,985 1,815 715 121 2,491 211 28,545 12,953
1992 14,021 5,550 4,995 4,779 3,867 1,679 627 90 2,119 171 26,772 12,444
1993 14,298 5,737 5,014 4,869 3,936 1,711 702 104 2,144 202 27,322 12,814
1994 14,610 6,033 5,041 5,021 3,757 1,732 687 109 2,013 202 27,409 13,291
1995 15,163 6,293 5,203 5,137 3,856 1,728 699 128 1,949 189 28,133 13,663
1996 15,066 6,563 5,379 5,260 3,780 1,667 654 107 1,888 189 28,061 13,991
1997 15,016 6,681 5,230 5,292 3,643 1,677 712 99 1,869 187 27,819 14,164
1998 14,975 6,651 5,006 5,046 3,558 1,670 658 99 2,027 200 27,607 13,884
1999 15,238 6,658 5,044 4,979 3,466 1,472 656 94 2,197 221 28,040 13,667
2000 15,323 6,495 5,381 4,831 3,251 1,512 613 76 2,563 266 28,545 13,396
2001 15,396 6,465 5,275 4,705 3,421 1,479 657 72 2,840 283 28,986 13,205
2002 15,907 6,629 5,361 4,737 3,298 1,552 590 73 2,883 304 29,466 13,529
2003 15,551 6,647 5,209 4,682 3,274 1,499 554 71 3,283 358 29,346 13,532
2004 15,390 6,562 5,103 4,638 3,237 1,435 626 96 3,485 417 29,443 13,387
2005 15,517 6,360 4,909 4,457 3,432 1,437 683 97 4,004 435 30,224 13,089
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

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.

Number and percent of motor vehicle crash deaths by type and gender, 2005
Gender Passenger vehicle driver deaths Passenger vehicle passenger deaths Pedestrian deaths Bicyclist deaths Motorcyclist deaths Total motor vehicle deaths*
Num % Num % Num % Num % Num % Num %
Male 15,517 71 4,909 52 3,432 70 683 87 4,004 90 30,224 70
Female 6,360 29 4,457 48 1,437 29 97 12 435 10 13,089 30
Total* 21,880 100 9,369 100 4,881 100 782 100 4,439 100 43,443 100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

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

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths per 100,000 people by gender, 1975-2005
Year Male Female Total*
Population Num Rate Population Num Rate Population Num Rate
1975 105,365,965 21,841 20.7 110,607,234 8,755 7.9 215,973,199 30,601 14.2
1976 106,308,604 22,300 21.0 111,726,560 9,420 8.4 218,035,164 31,724 14.5
1977 107,334,548 22,806 21.2 112,904,877 10,015 8.9 220,239,425 32,823 14.9
1978 108,423,580 24,443 22.5 114,160,965 10,477 9.2 222,584,545 34,923 15.7
1979 109,583,961 24,772 22.6 115,471,526 10,252 8.9 225,055,487 35,026 15.6
1980 110,398,754 24,649 22.3 116,825,965 10,341 8.9 227,224,719 34,995 15.4
1981 111,502,912 23,667 21.2 117,962,696 10,038 8.5 229,465,608 33,711 14.7
1982 112,579,479 20,494 18.2 119,085,017 9,158 7.7 231,664,496 29,654 12.8
1983 113,646,987 19,719 17.4 120,144,916 9,430 7.8 233,791,903 29,153 12.5
1984 114,670,252 20,102 17.5 121,154,531 9,989 8.2 235,824,783 30,091 12.8
1985 115,729,577 19,825 17.1 122,194,155 10,016 8.2 237,923,732 29,847 12.5
1986 116,865,225 21,677 18.5 123,267,616 10,514 8.5 240,132,841 32,224 13.4
1987 117,960,907 21,986 18.6 124,328,116 11,148 9.0 242,289,023 33,145 13.7
1988 119,085,496 22,633 19.0 125,413,340 11,459 9.1 244,498,836 34,105 13.9
1989 120,277,490 21,897 18.2 126,541,629 11,693 9.2 246,819,119 33,599 13.6
1990 121,626,118 21,564 17.7 127,838,278 11,132 8.7 249,464,396 32,711 13.1
1991 122,956,043 20,151 16.4 129,197,049 10,651 8.2 252,153,092 30,810 12.2
1992 124,423,544 19,077 15.3 130,606,155 10,350 7.9 255,029,699 29,457 11.6
1993 125,787,805 19,360 15.4 131,994,803 10,622 8.0 257,782,608 29,994 11.6
1994 127,049,175 19,728 15.5 133,277,846 11,076 8.3 260,327,021 30,816 11.8
1995 128,293,712 20,442 15.9 134,509,564 11,452 8.5 262,803,276 31,913 12.1
1996 129,504,353 20,491 15.8 135,724,219 11,852 8.7 265,228,572 32,354 12.2
1997 130,783,107 20,308 15.5 137,000,500 12,006 8.8 267,783,607 32,331 12.1
1998 132,029,729 20,057 15.2 138,218,274 11,714 8.5 270,248,003 31,779 11.8
1999 133,276,559 20,347 15.3 139,414,254 11,654 8.4 272,690,813 32,008 11.7
2000 138,468,999 20,759 15.0 143,723,163 11,346 7.9 282,192,162 32,109 11.4
2001 140,012,615 20,747 14.8 145,089,460 11,187 7.7 285,102,075 31,938 11.2
2002 141,518,989 21,326 15.1 146,422,231 11,389 7.8 287,941,220 32,724 11.4
2003 143,024,340 20,810 14.5 147,764,636 11,354 7.7 290,788,976 32,166 11.1
2004 144,537,408 20,534 14.2 149,117,996 11,215 7.5 293,655,404 31,750 10.8
2005 145,999,746 20,476 14.0 150,410,658 10,840 7.2 296,410,404 31,322 10.6
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

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.

Fatal passenger vehicle crash involvements per 100 million miles traveled by driver age and gender, April 2001–March 2002
Age Male Female Total*
Crash involvements Miles Rate Crash involvements Miles Rate Crash involvements Miles Rate
16-19 4,257 46,427,394,010 9.2 1,852 35,264,476,105 5.3 6,109 81,691,870,114 7.5
20-29 8,949 225,999,581,860 4.0 3,172 156,283,683,955 2.0 12,122 382,283,265,815 3.2
30-59 15,027 845,507,965,689 1.8 6,946 551,350,306,430 1.3 21,973 1,396,858,272,119 1.6
60-69 2,097 128,814,817,845 1.6 1,008 64,778,212,790 1.6 3,105 193,593,030,635 1.6
≥ 70 3,148 76,991,652,560 4.1 1,571 39,093,332,009 4.0 4,719 116,084,984,569 4.1
Total* 33,733 1,324,373,970,682 2.5 14,633 847,734,931,097 1.7 48,638 2,172,108,901,779 2.2
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Age differences

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.

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths per 100,000 people by age and gender, 2005
Age Male Female Total*
Population Num Rate Population Num Rate Population Num Rate
0-15 33,305,469 833 2.5 31,781,247 780 2.5 65,086,716 1,615 2.5
16-19 8,541,332 2,541 29.7 8,111,201 1,348 16.6 16,652,533 3,889 23.4
20-24 10,856,936 3,442 31.7 10,180,924 1,213 11.9 21,037,860 4,655 22.1
25-29 10,268,169 2,104 20.5 9,797,533 761 7.8 20,065,702 2,865 14.3
30-34 10,153,091 1,561 15.4 9,924,119 672 6.8 20,077,210 2,233 11.1
35-39 10,563,375 1,405 13.3 10,438,579 687 6.6 21,001,954 2,092 10.0
40-44 11,376,664 1,424 12.5 11,483,846 730 6.4 22,860,510 2,154 9.4
45-49 11,106,575 1,355 12.2 11,377,948 721 6.3 22,484,523 2,076 9.2
50-54 9,788,780 1,168 11.9 10,208,962 618 6.1 19,997,742 1,786 8.9
55-59 8,425,070 947 11.2 8,928,608 568 6.4 17,353,678 1,515 8.7
60-64 6,201,648 780 12.6 6,800,215 509 7.5 13,001,863 1,289 9.9
65-69 4,721,791 617 13.1 5,409,653 456 8.4 10,131,444 1,073 10.6
70-74 3,807,605 609 16.0 4,700,764 440 9.4 8,508,369 1,049 12.3
75-79 3,117,774 610 19.6 4,294,039 495 11.5 7,411,813 1,106 14.9
80-84 2,161,671 543 25.1 3,480,878 435 12.5 5,642,549 978 17.3
≥ 85 1,603,796 487 30.4 3,492,142 386 11.1 5,095,938 873 17.1
Total 145,999,746 20,476 14.0 150,410,658 10,840 7.2 296,410,404 31,322 10.6
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Alcohol involvement

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.

Estimated number and percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers with BACs ≥ 0.08 percent, 1982-2005
Year Male Female Total*
Drivers killed Estimated deaths with BACs ≥ 0.08 Drivers killed Estimated deaths with BACs ≥ 0.08 Drivers killed Estimated deaths with BACs ≥ 0.08
Num Num % Num Num % Num Num %
1982 15,128 8,529 56 4,534 1,495 33 19,663 10,023 51
1983 14,619 8,070 55 4,716 1,458 31 19,337 9,529 49
1984 14,933 7,855 53 5,365 1,523 28 20,298 9,378 46
1985 14,767 7,325 50 5,288 1,348 25 20,057 8,674 43
1986 15,935 7,950 50 5,564 1,444 26 21,503 9,396 44
1987 16,133 7,787 48 6,022 1,554 26 22,157 9,343 42
1988 16,744 8,080 48 6,140 1,500 24 22,884 9,581 42
1989 16,284 7,710 47 6,269 1,491 24 22,554 9,201 41
1990 15,901 7,591 48 6,049 1,380 23 21,953 8,973 41
1991 14,824 6,916 47 5,727 1,326 23 20,551 8,242 40
1992 14,021 6,216 44 5,550 1,217 22 19,573 7,434 38
1993 14,298 6,114 43 5,737 1,213 21 20,036 7,328 37
1994 14,610 5,898 40 6,033 1,184 20 20,644 7,083 34
1995 15,163 6,216 41 6,293 1,272 20 21,456 7,488 35
1996 15,066 6,063 40 6,563 1,272 19 21,631 7,336 34
1997 15,016 5,813 39 6,681 1,247 19 21,702 7,062 33
1998 14,975 5,712 38 6,651 1,232 19 21,627 6,945 32
1999 15,238 5,832 38 6,658 1,161 17 21,899 6,994 32
2000 15,323 5,844 38 6,495 1,283 20 21,819 7,127 33
2001 15,396 5,954 39 6,465 1,250 19 21,862 7,205 33
2002 15,907 6,182 39 6,629 1,199 18 22,537 7,381 33
2003 15,551 5,938 38 6,647 1,182 18 22,200 7,120 32
2004 15,390 5,804 38 6,562 1,148 17 21,952 6,952 32
2005 15,517 5,887 38 6,360 1,228 19 21,880 7,117 33
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

References