Crashes took 33,561 lives in the U.S. in 2012.
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 9:379-384.
However, in crashes of equal severity, 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 34:717-727.
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. The Journal of Trauma, Injury, Infection, and Critical Care 50:281-288.
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. 2005. Women's issues in highway safety: A summary of the literature. Proceedings of the Research on Women's Issues in Transportation Conference. Volume 2: Technical Papers. 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).
Male motor vehicle crash deaths declined 9 percent from 1975 to 2006, while female deaths increased 8 percent. The increase in female crash deaths was largely due to a 74 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, 1975-2006
About one-third of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2006 were females. Females accounted for 30 percent of passenger vehicle driver deaths, 47 percent of passenger vehicle passenger deaths, 30 percent of pedestrian deaths, 12 percent of bicyclist deaths, and 9 percent of motorcyclist deaths.
From 1975 to 2006, the rate of passenger vehicle occupant deaths per 100,000 people decreased 12 percent among females and 35 percent among males. During the same time period, occupant death rates were 2 to 2 1/2 times higher for males than females.
Passenger vehicle occupant deaths per 100,000 people by gender, 1975-2006
The number of driver fatal crash involvements per 100 million miles driven in 2001-02 was about 50 percent higher for males (2.5 per 100 million miles traveled) than females (1.7 per 100 million miles traveled). Up to about age 59 rates were substantially higher for males than females. But starting around age 60 rates for males and females were similar. The gender difference was largest among drivers ages 16-19.
In 2006, the rates of passenger vehicle occupant deaths per 100,000 people were higher among males than among females for every age group except 0-15 years. The gender difference in fatality rates was greatest for ages 20-24. Males ages 20-24 had the highest fatality rate, and fatality rates were lowest for males and females younger than 16.
From 1982 to 2006, 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 34 percent among females. Since 1985 the percentage of fatally injured male drivers with high BACs has been about twice that of female drivers.
©1996-2014, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute | www.iihs.org
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