Risk

Men and Women Are Terrible Drivers in Different Ways


(Corrects the amount a male driver will pay in the first paragraph.)

Insurance companies may be the only ones who still care whether men or women are the better drivers. Their verdict seems to be in: They do charge men more for car insurance. A 25-year-old male driver in, for example, Oakland, Calif., with no tickets or accidents, will pay up to $358 more for auto insurance than a woman with the same profile, according to a recent analysis by Insurance.com. The gap may narrow as men age, but it still adds up to thousands over the course of a lifetime.

Women still have plenty of fender-benders. A 1993 study by the University of Michigan found that women had higher rates of non-injury accidents than men for every age group over 25. A more recent study revealed that women were more likely to be struck while making turns at an intersection.

The difference, from an insurance standpoint, is the relative severity—and subsequent cost—of the type of accidents men and women have. Men are more likely to speed, drive aggressively, and operate under the influence, according to national transportation data. They also log more miles. In 2012, the most recent year available, 71 percent of the drivers killed on American roads were men, says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. No messing around here: When men are at the wheel, crashes are more likely to end in totaled cars, costly medical bills, and well-fed lawyers.

It’s those costs that insurance companies are trying to hedge. So men pay higher premiums. “That’s why the auto insurer is looking at gender,” says Michael Barry of the Insurance Information Institute.

While male drivers now account for more overall accidents than women, technology may be shifting the balance. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that teenage girls were twice as likely as teenage boys to engage in one particularly high-risk move: texting or talking while driving.

Aho writes about risk. Follow her on Twitter: @AhoReport.

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