Crashes took 32,719 lives in the U.S. in 2013.
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).
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
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.
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
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 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.
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.
©1996-2015, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute | www.iihs.org
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