There’s a prevailing stereotype that Asians are bad drivers. It’s an unfortunate and tired stereotype seen in countless cultural references.
We decided to check the facts. Are Asians really worse at driving than other ethnicities?
What we found was surprising. Not only is this stereotype completely false, but Asians actually tend to be better drivers than other ethnicities. In fact, the average Asian driver will pay less for his or her annual car insurance than the average white or black driver in the United States – all other things being equal.
Today, we’re going to teach you the facts about Asian drivers in the United States – and how Asian drivers can save huge amounts on car insurance.
NHTSA Safety Data Reveals Asians Tend To Be Safer Drivers
We don’t have to rely on tired stereotypes to get the facts on Asian drivers. Instead, the National Highway Transport Safety Administration has already collected plenty of stats about race and driving habits.
In 2006, the NHTSA published a study called Traffic Safety Facts: Race and Ethnicity. The study separated American drivers into six different race and ethnicity categories, including Hispanic, White/Non-Hispanic, African-American or Black/Non-Hispanic, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.
The study provides valuable insight into the role of race and vehicle accidents. Here are some of the facts from the study:
- There were 508 fatalities among Asian drivers in 2006, compared to 24,816 fatalities among white drivers, 4511 fatalities among African-American drivers, and 5,405 fatalities among Hispanic drivers.
- Of all six race categories listed above, Asians were the least likely to be fatally injured while driving. Asians had a fatality rate of 4.00 per 100,000 population. In comparison, white, Hispanic, and black drivers had a fatality rate of approximately 12.35 per 100,000 population. Based on these statistics, Asian drivers were one third less likely to be involved in a fatal car accident than white, black, or Hispanic drivers. Hispanic drivers were the second least likely to be involved in a fatal accident, with an accident rate of 12.27 per 100,000 population.
- The study examined rates of impaired driving among all six race and ethnic categories listed above. Alcohol was a factor in 36% of fatal traffic incidents involving Hispanics, 31% involving whites, and 31% involving African-Americans. Asians, however, had the lowest percentage of fatalities related to alcohol. 22% of Asian fatalities on the road in 2006 involved drivers with a BAC over 0.08. That’s 9 percentage points lower than white and African-American drivers.
A Sydney University Study Finds Asian-born Drivers Are Significantly Safer than Drivers Born in Australia
We turn to Sydney University in Australia for our next study. In 2010, researchers at Sydney University decided to study the claim that Asian drivers were less safe than drivers born in Australia. Here’s what they found, as reported by The Newcastle Herald:
“Sydney University researchers claim that young Australians born in Asia are significantly safer than Australian drivers born everywhere else. Their crash risk is half that of Australia-born drivers.”
Researchers used data collected from 21,000 young drivers on probationary licenses (called “P-Plates” in Australia). They also analyzed crash reports provided by police. The end result was a total overturn of the claim that Asians are worse drivers than any other ethnicity.
The difference was even more significant than in the NHTSA study linked above: Asia-born drivers had half the crash risk of Australia-born drivers, for example.
In other words, drivers born in Australia were twice as likely to be involved in a crash compared to drivers born in Asia.
Asian Drivers Pay Less for Car Insurance Than Any Other Race or Ethnicity
We’ve established that Asian drivers are no more likely to be involved in a traffic accident than other races or ethnicities. In fact, we’ve established that the opposite is the case – Asian drivers are significantly less likely to be involved in a traffic accident than most other races and ethnicities.
But does that mean they pay less for car insurance?
We decided to investigate. We conducted a survey involving drivers from across the United States. We surveyed 100 Asian-American drivers to determine how much they paid for car insurance. Our surveyed drivers were distributed relatively equally among males and females and across all age groups. You can view the results of the survey here.
According to our results, the average Asian-American driver pays approximately $68 per month for car insurance, or $816 per year.
Meanwhile, other studies show that the average American pays $907.38 per year for car insurance, or approximately $75.62 per month.
Based on these results, an Asian driver can expect to save about $90 per year on their annual car insurance policy compared to an average American driver, all other things being equal.
Asian Drivers Consistently Pay Less for Car Insurance than Black or White Drivers
Other studies have reinforced the theory that Asian drivers consistently pay less for car insurance than black or white drivers.
In November 2015, for example, the Consumer Federation of America published a study analyzing car insurance quotes from white, black and Asian communities across the United States.
Based on this study, Asian drivers will pay less for car insurance than drivers in predominantly African-American or white neighborhoods. Some of the important findings from that study include:
- Drivers who live in predominantly African-American communities will pay insurance rates of approximately $1,060 per year, regardless of their ethnicity
- In general, drivers in predominantly black neighborhoods can expect to pay an incredible 70% higher rate on their car insurance than drivers in predominantly white neighborhoods (the study defined “neighborhoods” based on ZIP codes)
- In densely populated urban centers, for example, the average premium for drivers in African-American ZIP codes was $1,797 compared to $1,126 for drivers in predominantly white ZIP codes – a difference of 60%
Up above, we determined that the average Asian-American driver pays a rate of approximately $816 per year, which is significantly less than the $1100 to $1800 quotes found in the study linked above.
Why Does the Stereotype Exist?
The stereotype that Asian drivers are bad drivers may exist for any number of different reasons.
The most likely theory is confirmation bias. When you see someone make a mistake on the road, and you look over and see an Asian person in the driver’s seat, your mind confirms your bias that Asians are bad drivers.
In reality, as the facts above show, Asian drivers are not more likely to be involved in traffic fatalities or other incidents. Instead, the opposite is true: Asian drivers are generally safer drivers than drivers of other ethnicities.
Another reason is related to immigration. If someone dropped you in the middle of a crowded city street in Bangkok or Thailand, would you know how to safely drive to your destination? Road rules are different. Road signs are different. Speed limits are different. Traffic cops are different, and driver attitudes are different. Many visible minorities seen on roads in America recently emigrated from a foreign country. There will naturally be an adjustment period. Obviously, the majority of Asian-ethnicity drivers on America’s roads were not born in a foreign country. However, this attitude can still reinforce stereotypes through confirmation bias.
The western world has a prevailing stereotype that Asian drivers are less safe than other drivers. In reality, as demonstrated above, this isn’t really true. In fact, it goes the opposite direction. According to multiple studies on race, ethnicity, and driving habits, Asians tend to be safer drivers than drivers of other races and ethnicities.
Meanwhile, our own research determined that these safe driving habits can save Asians money at the insurance office. Asians pay approximately $820 per year for car insurance, on average, while the average American driver pays approximately $910 per year.
Now can we officially end the stereotype that Asians are bad drivers?