Many men already “know” that they are better drivers than their women counterparts. And a study out of University of Michigan is giving them some debate ammunition.
The study, conducted by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle, examined six common types of accidents that result from maneuvers where one driver could ascertain the gender of the other driver (such as turning out into a vehicle’s oncoming path). The information was gathered from nationwide police reports and analyzed. Almost 6.5 million car crashes were analyzed.
Prior to examining the gender data, Sivak and Schoettle made predictions that were statistically based on previous research. Citing 2001 National Household Travel Survey report that states 60.2% of the all distance driven during the day is by men and 39.8% is by women, the researchers used a simple formula to do their predictions. Male vs. male driver accidents, for example, were predicted at 60.2% x 60.2% x 100 – or 36.2% of all accidents. Male vs female accidents were predicted 60.2% x 39.8% x 100 x 2 (male vs female + female vs male) = 47.9%. Finally, female vs female crash rates were thought to be 39.8% x 39.8% x 100 = 15.9%.
I imagine I lost most male readers at this point. That’s ok – let me give you the main bulletin point. The study predicted that based on the amount of driving men do, they would be involved in a certain percentage of the analyzed accidents. The part you care about, though, is that the data doesn’t support that theory.
When actual gender vs. gender car accident data was analyzed, it was discovered that women have disproportionally higher involvement in accidents than men do – specifically when the driver they crash into is the other driver!
Victory for me.
Of course, the study goes on to say:
This pattern of results could be due to either differential gender exposure to the different scenarios, differential gender capabilities to handle specific scenarios, or differential expectations of actions by other drivers based on their gender. The current lack of information on gender exposure in different scenarios, scenario-specific driver skills, and driver expectations based on other drivers’ gender prevents ruling out any of these possible explanations.
In other words, this study doesn’t really prove anything. It isn’t a causation study (A causes B) as much as it’s a correlation study (both A & B were present).
Well – I guess that means I can’t write off accidents with female drivers as being inevitable. I guess that means I still have to show responsibility while driving and be alert for any road obstacles. Drats. It’s easier to blame things outside of my control than it is to take responsibility for those that are within it.
Drive safely, Dallas.