Gender | 2009

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, 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 34:717-27. 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.

From 1975 to the mid-2000s, deaths among female passenger vehicle drivers increased, while male passenger vehicle driver deaths declined slightly. Deaths among both female and male drivers have experienced large declines in the past few years. The increase in female driver deaths since 1975 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. 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).

Trends

Male motor vehicle crash deaths declined 27 percent from 1975 to 2009, while female deaths decreased 15 percent. The smaller decrease in female crash deaths overall was largely due to a 34 percent increase in deaths of female passenger vehicle drivers since 1975. Deaths of male passenger vehicle drivers declined 24 percent during the same time period. Since 1975, deaths have gone down among both male and female passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists, while motorcyclist deaths increased among both males and females. Since 1997 motorcyclist deaths more than doubled for both males and females.

Motor vehicle deaths by gender, 1975-2009

Motor vehicle crash deaths by type and gender, 1975-2009
Year Passenger vehicle drivers Passenger vehicle passengers Pedestrians Bicyclists Motorcyclists 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 4,877 6,439 5,438 5,613 2,454 782 183 4,524 430 37,392 13,689
1981 17,592 4,910 5,972 5,077 5,459 2,332 748 181 4,348 389 35,930 13,161
1982 15,129 4,534 5,298 4,609 5,144 2,185 720 144 3,933 334 31,879 12,062
1983 14,620 4,716 5,022 4,699 4,775 2,050 700 130 3,800 299 30,499 12,084
1984 14,933 5,366 5,094 4,605 5,016 2,005 684 153 4,076 349 31,541 12,709
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 14,612 6,034 5,041 5,022 3,757 1,732 687 109 2,013 202 27,411 13,293
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 15,023 6,683 5,231 5,294 3,643 1,677 712 99 1,869 187 27,827 14,168
1998 14,975 6,651 5,007 5,047 3,558 1,670 658 99 2,027 200 27,608 13,885
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 15,564 6,386 4,936 4,489 3,450 1,441 687 97 4,023 437 30,347 13,155
2006 15,199 6,390 4,707 4,223 3,332 1,459 675 94 4,286 413 29,849 12,842
2007 14,648 5,892 4,498 4,038 3,288 1,411 616 83 4,605 445 29,173 12,080
2008 13,022 5,239 3,910 3,314 3,078 1,331 624 92 4,662 449 26,744 10,665
2009 11,902 4,887 3,394 3,204 2,814 1,277 549 81 3,865 416 23,726 10,070
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Seventy percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2009 were males. Males accounted for 71 percent of passenger vehicle driver deaths, 51 percent of passenger vehicle passenger deaths, 69 percent of pedestrian deaths, 87 percent of bicyclist deaths, and 90 percent of motorcyclist deaths.

Number and percent of motor vehicle crash deaths by type and gender, 2009
Gender Passenger vehicle drivers Passenger vehicle passengers Pedestrians Bicyclists Motorcyclists Total motor vehicle deaths*
Num % Num % Num % Num % Num % Num %
Male 11,902 71 3,394 51 2,814 69 549 87 3,865 90 23,726 70
Female 4,887 29 3,204 49 1,277 31 81 13 416 10 10,070 30
Total* 16,791 100 6,602 100 4,092 100 630 100 4,281 100 33,808 100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

From 1975 to 2009, the rate of passenger vehicle occupant deaths per 100,000 people decreased 34 percent among females and 51 percent among males. During the same time period, occupant death rates were about 2 to 2 1/2 times higher for males than females.

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths per 100,000 people by gender, 1975-2009

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths per 100,000 people by gender, 1975-2009
Year Male Female Total*
Population Deaths Rate Population Deaths Rate Population Deaths 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 10,342 8.9 227,224,719 34,996 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 20,496 18.2 119,085,017 9,158 7.7 231,664,496 29,656 12.8
1983 113,646,987 19,720 17.4 120,144,916 9,430 7.8 233,791,903 29,154 12.5
1984 114,670,252 20,102 17.5 121,154,531 9,991 8.2 235,824,783 30,093 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 19,730 15.5 133,277,846 11,078 8.3 260,327,021 30,820 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 20,316 15.5 137,000,500 12,010 8.8 267,783,607 32,343 12.1
1998 132,029,729 20,058 15.2 138,218,274 11,715 8.5 270,248,003 31,781 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 20,550 14.1 150,410,658 10,898 7.2 296,410,404 31,455 10.6
2006 147,512,152 19,977 13.5 151,886,332 10,641 7.0 299,398,484 30,628 10.2
2007 148,658,898 19,198 12.9 152,962,259 9,952 6.5 301,621,157 29,155 9.7
2008 149,924,604 16,973 11.3 154,135,120 8,568 5.6 304,059,724 25,547 8.4
2009 151,449,490 15,334 10.1 155,557,060 8,097 5.2 307,006,550 23,437 7.6
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

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.

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 4,255 46,427,394,010 9.2 1,851 35,264,476,105 5.2 6,106 81,691,870,114 7.5
20-29 8,893 225,999,581,860 3.9 3,163 156,283,683,955 2.0 12,057 382,283,265,815 3.2
30-59 14,904 845,507,965,689 1.8 6,927 551,350,306,430 1.3 21,831 1,396,858,272,119 1.6
60-69 2,088 128,814,817,845 1.6 1,006 64,778,212,790 1.6 3,094 193,593,030,635 1.6
≥ 70 3,145 76,991,652,560 4.1 1,571 39,093,332,009 4.0 4,716 116,084,984,569 4.1
Total* 33,540 1,324,373,970,682 2.5 14,602 847,734,931,097 1.7 48,414 2,172,108,901,779 2.2
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Age differences

In 2009, the rates of passenger vehicle occupant deaths per 100,000 people were much higher among males than among females for every age group except 0-15. Males 85 and older had the highest fatality rate, followed by males ages 20-24. Fatality rates were lowest for males and females younger than 16.

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths per 100,000 people by age and gender, 2009
Age Male Female Total*
Population Deaths Rate Population Deaths Rate Population Deaths Rate
0-15 33,763,291 517 1.5 32,253,298 533 1.7 66,016,589 1,051 1.6
16-19 8,933,428 1,613 18.1 8,470,674 961 11.3 17,404,102 2,575 14.8
20-24 11,093,552 2,393 21.6 10,446,007 862 8.3 21,539,559 3,256 15.1
25-29 11,115,560 1,712 15.4 10,562,159 677 6.4 21,677,719 2,389 11.0
30-34 10,107,974 1,155 11.4 9,780,629 499 5.1 19,888,603 1,654 8.3
35-39 10,353,016 997 9.6 10,185,335 457 4.5 20,538,351 1,454 7.1
40-44 10,504,139 1,057 10.1 10,487,466 442 4.2 20,991,605 1,499 7.1
45-49 11,295,524 1,119 9.9 11,535,568 562 4.9 22,831,092 1,681 7.4
50-54 10,677,847 980 9.2 11,083,544 484 4.4 21,761,391 1,464 6.7
55-59 9,204,666 764 8.3 9,770,360 442 4.5 18,975,026 1,206 6.4
60-64 7,576,933 708 9.3 8,234,990 390 4.7 15,811,923 1,098 6.9
65-69 5,511,164 533 9.7 6,273,156 360 5.7 11,784,320 893 7.6
70-74 4,082,226 460 11.3 4,925,521 331 6.7 9,007,747 791 8.8
75-79 3,149,236 445 14.1 4,176,292 324 7.8 7,325,528 769 10.5
80-84 2,298,260 449 19.5 3,524,074 398 11.3 5,822,334 847 14.5
≥ 85 1,782,674 412 23.1 3,847,987 361 9.4 5,630,661 773 13.7
Total 151,449,490 15,334 10.1 155,557,060 8,097 5.2 307,006,550 23,437 7.6
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Alcohol involvement

From 1982 to 2009, the proportion of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers with blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) at or above 0.08 percent has been substantially higher for female drivers than for male drivers.

Estimated number and percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers with BACs ≥ 0.08 percent, 1982-2009
Year Male Female Total*
Drivers killed Estimated deaths with BAC ≥ 0.08 Drivers killed Estimated deaths with BAC ≥ 0.08 Drivers killed Estimated deaths with BAC ≥ 0.08
Num Num % Num Num % Num Num %
1982 15,129 8,529 56 4,534 1,495 33 19,664 10,024 51
1983 14,620 8,070 55 4,716 1,458 31 19,338 9,529 49
1984 14,933 7,855 53 5,366 1,523 28 20,299 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 14,612 5,898 40 6,034 1,184 20 20,647 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 15,023 5,819 39 6,683 1,248 19 21,711 7,069 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 15,564 5,897 38 6,386 1,205 19 21,953 7,104 32
2006 15,199 5,776 38 6,390 1,387 22 21,592 7,164 33
2007 14,648 5,841 40 5,892 1,216 21 20,542 7,057 34
2008 13,022 5,211 40 5,239 1,067 20 18,266 6,280 34
2009 11,902 4,788 40 4,887 1,071 22 16,791 5,861 35
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

References