Boys vs. Girls: Which Are Better Drivers?

(Here are the facts you need to know)


The whole "men vs. women" debate is about anything and everything. Teen driving safety is no different. Thankfully, a professor and a doctoral student in the civil engineering department at Kansas State University gave the question a closer look. Others have conducted studies on the topic, too. Either way, everyone e can agree that it's important to have an affordable car insurance policy.

Combined, they all give parents real answers when it comes to teen driving safety and gender. The short answer: Males and females both have issues when it comes to safe driving. 

The Kansas State University Study

The duo at Kansas State University analyzed motor vehicle accident reports in Kansas from a five-year period (2007-2011) involving drivers aged 16 to 24. The study was organized to fuel educational materials for teen drivers and to reduce the number of accidents involving young people.

The study, published in the Journal of Safety Research as part of a Kansas Department of Transportation study, found that elderly drivers and teenage drivers are involved in car accidents more often than any other age groups. There are some differences between males and females, too.

The Truth about Male Teen Drivers According to University Research

Sorry, parents: Teenage boys don't drive as carefully as their female counterparts. At least not most of the time.

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "In 2016, the motor vehicle death rate for male drivers and passengers aged 16 to 19 was almost two times that of their female counterparts." 

This means it's time to talk to your son, nephew and their male friends about driving safety as soon as possible. According to the Kansas State University study, teenage male drivers overall are:

  • More aggressive with their movements and decisions
  • Involved in accidents after sunset and on weekends
  • Involved in off-road accidents (parking lots, side of the road)
  • Speed on rural roads

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The University Says: Female Teen Drivers Aren't Perfect, Either

That isn't to say that females don't need to brush up on their driving skills. However, they fared better on:

  • Accidents
  • Seat belt usage (66% more likely to use a seat belt)
  • Aggressive driving habits 

Parents should take note of female teen driver weaknesses and work to address them. Female drivers overall are:

  • 28% more likely to drive with a restricted license
  • More often involved in accidents at intersections and with pedestrians
  • More often involved in weekday (not weekend) accidents

So while female drivers aren't quite as dangerous as males, they have plenty of room for improvement.

Other Studies Find "Significant" Differences Between Males and Females...

The Kansas City University Study is a representative overview of teen male vs. female drivers. But other studies have delved into this issue, too. 

One study published by the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine in 2012 analyzed Fatality Analysis Reporting System data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for crashes between 2007 and 2009. Males and females scored as follows:

  • Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more: 21% vs. 12% (male vs. female, respectively)
  • Speeding: 38% vs. 25%
  • Reckless driving: 17% vs. 14%
  • Night driving: 41% vs. 36%
  • Felony crashes (hit-and-run, homicide, manslaughter): 8% vs. 6%

While some of these differences are big, others are pretty small. The study found that some of these trends change with age, too. For example, both males and females get into more crashes due to BAC as they get older. This makes sense, because most people drink more as they age.

If this study reveals anything, it's that there are certainly some gender differences in teen driving behavior. Some of these trends change over time for both genders, and some increase for one and not the other or they stay the same.

The Bottom Line

From using cellphones to changing radio stations to putting on makeup, teens aren't keeping their eyes on the road as much as they should. Several studies, in addition to the two mentioned above, reveal that both males and females have issues at the wheel. However, these can change over time and with age. 

Regardless, take time tonight to talk with your teen - male or female - about the dangers of:

  • Distracted driving
  • Alcohol use
  • Failure to wear a seat belt

When you think "teenage driver" and "danger," you should also think about insurance. An independent insurance agent can explain the process for your state and help you choose the best car insurance coverage to protect both your teen and your vehicle.

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