Is confidence the key to safer driving? Our latest survey reveals that while men feel very confident in their driving abilities, crash statistics tell a different story. Stereotypes often peg women as bad drivers, but according to our findings, humble driving may be a better label.
Our survey found:
Men are more confident drivers, but that doesn’t make them any safer on the road. Men are more likely to engage in riskier driving behaviors and are involved in significantly more fatal crashes. These trends would lead you to believe that men pay more in car insurance rates, but that narrative is changing in many states.
When asked how confident Americans were in their driving abilities, we found 82% of men reported being “very confident” drivers compared to only 74% of women. Steer clear though, our survey may have found that men are more confident in their driving abilities but outside data shows they engage in riskier behavior. This overconfidence may ultimately lead to unsafe driving and fatal accidents.
Statistics show men are more likely to practice riskier driving behaviors such as not wearing seat belts, speeding, drowsy driving, and drunk driving. The IIHS reports that more men than women die in car crashes each year and this has unfortunately been a trend since 1975. Fatalities are significantly higher for males in crashes involving speeding and alcohol-impaired driving. It seems overconfidence in one's driving ability doesn’t always equate to playing it safe on the road.
Although women tend to be safer drivers, there is an evident gender gap in car safety. The IIHS study found that even though crashes involving men are more severe, it’s women who are more often injured or killed in crashes of equal severity. Another study conducted by the University of Virginia found women are 73% more likely than men to be seriously injured in a car crash — even when both were wearing seatbelts. How could this be?
The answer may lie in a process that occurs before cars even hit the road. While there are still many questions surrounding this gender disparity, some researchers point to the historical use of male crash dummies. For years, dummies modeled to match larger male bodies from the 70s and 80s were used to test crash safety features. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that smaller female bodies were modeled and deployed. More research is underway, but automakers certainly feel the pressure to increase car safety for all, especially as improved technology becomes available.
Forty-five states allow gender-based price differences in car insurance rates. Since men are known to be more risky drivers and are involved in more fatal crashes, you might expect them to pay more in car insurance premiums. However, a recent study done by The Zebra found the opposite is happening in an increasing number of states.
Women now pay more for car insurance in 25 states — a number double what it was two years ago. On average, women pay $10 more than men on their annual car insurance premiums. Is it fair for insurers to charge more based on gender? Our own study found that many more women deemed the pricing practice unfair than men did.
No matter which side of the debate you’re on, make sure it’s the safe side and drive with confidence knowing you’ve got the best car insurance rates.
This study was conducted for The Zebra using Google Consumer Surveys. The sample consisted of no less than 1,000 completed responses per question. Post-stratification weighting has been applied to ensure an accurate and reliable representation of the total population. This survey was conducted in November 2019.