Are Women Bad Drivers? (Fact or Fiction)
In spite of the myth that women are bad drivers, women drivers make up less than 30 percent of all traffic violations, including fatalities and DUIs. And because women are not bad drivers, they have cheaper auto insurance rates in most states — no need for bad driver insurance. If you see a bad driver on the road, you can report bad drivers to the police. Start comparing bad driver car insurance quotes online with our free tool below.
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UPDATED: Aug 8, 2020
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|Facts About Driving by Gender||Statistics||From the experts|
|Number of Men Killed in Car Accidents||25,841||NHTSA|
|Number of Women Killed in Car Accidents||10,676||NHTSA|
|Male DUI Deaths (per 100,000 people)||5.2||CDC|
|Female DUI Deaths (per 100,000 people)||1.5||CDC|
|Number of Men Killed in Speeding-Related Accidents||3,420||IIHS|
|Number of Women Killed in Speeding-Related Accidents||927||IIHS|
A common trope in comedy and media as a whole has been that women drivers are bad. This “fact” was bandied about in stand-up comedy routines and used in movies and sitcoms for decades, but are women bad drivers? Are men or women better drivers?
On the surface, it appears that women are actually better drivers than men. This is a complicated issue, however, that is impacted by more than just gender. Things like age and marital status also impact whether or not someone is likely to be considered an unsafe driver. All of these factors, combined with your personal driving history, have a direct impact on the cost of your auto insurance rates. That’s why comparing auto insurance quotes is critical.
Whether you are male or female, if you’re ready to find the most affordable rates for auto insurance you can enter your ZIP code in our FREE tool above.
Male vs Female Driving Statistics
According to the statistics below, women are generally better drivers than men:
Men get in more accidents than women
According to a New York City traffic study, 80 percent of all auto accidents that kill or seriously injure pedestrians involve male drivers. According to a study by Quality Planning, an insurance statistics company, female drivers were also 27 percent less likely to be found at fault when involved in an accident.
These statistics tend to hold true no matter where you look. According to the United States Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, men were involved in 6.1 million accidents (40,000 were fatal) in 2007. By comparison, women were only involved in 4.4 million (14,000 were fatal).
Men get more traffic violations than women
In pretty much every category of traffic violations there are, men seem to dominate women (and that isn’t a good thing). Men are more likely than women to get cited for reckless driving (3.41 to 1 ratio), driving under the influence (3.09 to 1 ratio), seat belt violations (3.08 to 1 ratio), speeding (1.75 to 1 ratio), failure to yield (1.54 to 1 ratio), and stop signal violations (1.53 to 1 ratio).
Men get more DUIs than women
A DUI violation is one of those few “no-no’s” for your driving record. No matter what, you should avoid getting a DUI at all costs. It’s like a permanent stain on your transcript that takes years to wash away.
Nevertheless, men still outnumber women by a long shot when it comes to DUIs. In keeping tune with the 3.08 to 1 ratio mentioned above, in 2007, 626,371 DUIs were issued to men in the United States. Women drivers were only issued 162,493.
Men are much more likely to be killed in an accident than women
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 71 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2018 were men. When you break traffic fatalities down into smaller categories, the difference based on gender is even more severe, with men making up 97 percent of all large truck driver fatalities and 91 percent of all motorcyclist deaths.
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What do these numbers tell us about women drivers?
Based on the numbers, women appear to be safer drivers than men. But why does that matter? Why do guys pay more for car insurance? Take a look at the chart below for male versus female car accident statistics:
|States||Total Population||2018 Traffic Fatalities – Male Drivers||Percentage of Total Traffic Fatalities – Male Drivers||2018 Traffic Fatalities – Female Drivers||Percentage of Total Traffic Fatalities – Male Drivers|
|District of Columbia||670,377||15||65.22%||8||34.78%|
When it comes to traffic fatalities, men are significantly more likely to die while driving than women. According to the chart above, men make up somewhere between 65–78 percent of traffic fatalities in every single state in the U.S. By any standard that isn’t a good thing, but from an insurance point of view, it means significantly more expenses are paid out for men than women.
Insurance companies will pay out significantly less in medical payments, uninsured motorist coverage, funeral expenses, and car repairs for women’s auto insurance than they will for men, causing them to charge men higher rates.
Women Are Safer Drivers Based on Statistics…and Car Insurance Rates Show That
The statistics are pretty clear and straightforward — women are safer drivers than men. But why is this? Experts say that men, specifically young men, are more aggressive behind the wheel. They are more likely to take risks, and therefore, more likely to make mistakes.
Many believe this is because of higher testosterone levels. This higher likelihood to take risks, fueled by testosterone, also might be the reason why men are statistically more likely to drive under the influence, not wear a seat belt, and go over the speed limit.
Insurance companies consider these statistics carefully when determining your rates.
Because of this, insurance prices tend to be cheaper for women than they are for men. Think of it almost like an award to women for being safer drivers. You drive safe, you get cheaper insurance. It’s as simple as that. See the chart above for a sample of rates comparing gender and age in Florida and the table below for national averages.
Here are some other factors that can affect your auto insurance rate.
But how much cheaper is auto insurance for women? Depending on your age, the price difference can be significant. Take a look at the table of average car insurance rates by age and gender below:
|Driver Marital Status, Age, & Gender||Average Annual Rates|
|Married 60-Year-Old Female||$2,243.26|
|Married 60-Year-Old Male||$2,307.79|
|Married 35-Year-Old Male||$2,445.85|
|Married 35-Year-Old Female||$2,449.06|
|Single 25-Year-Old Female||$2,703.28|
|Single 25-Year-Old Male||$2,889.27|
|Single 17-Year-Old Female||$7,559.03|
|Single 17-Year-Old Male||$9,027.64|
The table above shows that gender does impact your rates, but that it is far from the only factor in determining how much you pay for insurance. The largest price difference between genders is at the 17-year-old level, where auto insurance for young males is more expensive because they are much more likely to be impulsive and reckless behind the wheel.
As you move into the 25-year-old demographic the price difference is much lower, only about $150 per year. For 35-year-olds, the price difference basically disappears, leaving only a three or four dollar gap in rates between genders.
One of the big reasons why we see this kind of pattern in insurance rates is because people tend to be calmer and more rational as they age, making them less likely to engage in risky behavior while driving. Another reason we see the difference in insurance premiums disappear is that married people tend to be safer drivers — having a family encourages people to make more responsible decisions.
Auto Insurance For Male vs Female Drivers
As we saw above, gender can play a significant role in determining your insurance rates. Insurance companies have been studying claims information for years to help them decide exactly how much they should charge, but some states have put laws in place to prevent gender from being used to determine what your insurance will cost.
Montana was the first state to put laws in place to prevent insurance companies from rating people based on gender. While this may seem like a new concept, Montana passed its gender-based insurance laws in the 1980s.
Michigan is the most recent state to pick up this issue, with a ban on any non-driving factors being used when determining your insurance rates.
This means that your gender, age, ZIP code, and other personal information cannot be used to determine your insurance rates in Michigan as of July 1st, 2020.
Laws are changing every day, so check with your insurance company to find out how gender can affect your auto insurance rates.
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Professional Women Drivers
Part of the reason men clock more miles behind the wheel than women is that men are much more likely to drive in a professional capacity. Whether you are talking about something as high risk as race car driving or as low key as pizza delivery, these jobs are all filled predominantly by men. That doesn’t mean there are no women doing these jobs, however.
Are there female race car drivers? Yes — in the racing world women have been competing against men for decades. Famous race car drivers like Michèle Mouton and Lyn St. James have been tearing up the track for years. Danica Patrick is one of the most famous women drivers in the history of NASCAR and began pursuing professional racing at the tender age of ten. Professional car racing is actually one of the few sports that are not divided into separate leagues by gender.
Women truck drivers only make up about 7 percent of the industry, but that number continues to climb. Women make up slightly more than 30 percent of the UPS and FedEx workforce. A quick Google search even brings up all-female moving companies, taxi services, and other driving-heavy jobs, showing that women play a substantial role in the world of professional drivers.
Why do people think men are better drivers than women?
Where does the car stereotype of the “crazy woman driver” come from, especially when you consider that all the evidence indicates that “crazy men drivers” are much more common? Stereotypes are often based on preconceived notions that have no basis in fact.
Women have been driving since the invention of the automobile, showing women driver’s history is every bit as experienced as men.
When cars were relatively new, however, there was a feeling among some men at the time that they should be given priority access to automobiles because they were the primary wage earners. Men in positions of power and influence decided to run with the idea, such as writer Montgomery Rollins who, “drew on the notion that femaleness unfitted some people for the adult responsibility of driving a powerful gasoline automobile.”
Women, however, were excited to go to work and run errands with a car. The people at General Motors were also excited, specifically about the idea of a two-car family, so female drivers became the norm. However, some men held onto the idea that women were genetically inferior drivers to men. There are still plenty of people who believe this nonsense, even when almost every fact and statistic says otherwise, which is why women drivers are still stereotyped.
This is why you see the difference in insurance rates between men and women drop so sharply over time — once the insurance company can rate you on your own driving history they don’t need to rely on gender-based statistics to determine your rates.
What are women better at than men?
Statistics show that women are better at being safer drivers than men but, like everything else, this is just a statistic. While the average woman may be a safer driver than the average man, each individual is responsible for their own driving. There will be some women who are reckless drivers and some men who are very cautious on the road.
DUI Statistics by Gender
According to DUI legal experts, men have significantly higher rates of DUI than women. They also have higher recidivism rates than women, on average.
- 77.6 percent of all DUIs in 2010 were male
- 32 percent of male DUI offenders originally convicted in 1994 reoffended at least once by 2010
- 23 percent of female DUI offenders originally convicted in 1994 reoffended at least once by 2010
When insurance companies assign higher rates to young men, these statistics are part of the reason why. DUIs stay on your record for many years and drive your insurance costs up, sometimes by more than a thousand dollars a year, so it is vital for both men and women to know the DUI laws in their state to make sure they don’t end up with a DUI on their record. The effects of a DUI on your auto insurance premium can be severe and last for many years, so be careful about avoiding DUIs.
|States||BAC Limit||High BAC Limit||Criminal Status by Offense||Formal Name for Offense|
|Alabama||0.08||0.15||1st–3rd are misdemeanors; 4th+ in 5 years are class C felonies||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|Alaska||0.08||NA||1st–2nd are class A misdemeanors; 3rd+ in 10 years are class C felonies||Driving Under the Influence (DUI) / Operating Under the Influence (OUI)|
|Arizona||0.08||0.15–0.2; 0.2+||1st–2nd are class 1 misdemeanors; 3rd+ are class 4 felonies||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|Arkansas||0.08||NA||4th+ within 5 years are felonies (otherwise unclassified)||Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)|
|California||0.08||0.15–0.2; 0.2+||Non-injury DUI are misdemeanors; 4th+ are felonies if offender is sentenced to incarceration in state prison||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|Colorado||0.05 (DWAI), 0.08 (DUI)||0.15–0.2; 0.2+||1st–3rd are misdemeanors; 4th+ are class 4 felonies||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|Connecticut||0.08||NA||1st is misdemeanor; 2+ within 10 years are felonies||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|Delaware||0.08||0.15–0.2; 0.2+||1st–2nd are unclassified misdemeanors; 3rd is class G felony; 4th–5th are class E felonies; 6th is class D felony; 7th is class C felony||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|Florida||0.08||0.15||1st–2nd are misdemeanors; 3rd+ within 10 years is 3rd degree felony||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|Georgia||0.08||0.15||1st–2nd are misdemeanors, 3rd is high and aggravated misdemeanor; 4th+ are felonies||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|Hawaii||0.08||NA||1st–3rd are petty misdemeanors; 4th+ are class C felonies||Driving Under the Influence (DUI) / Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of an Intoxicant (OVUII)|
|Idaho||0.08||0.2||1st–2nd are misdemeanors; 2nd or subsequent with BAC > 0.20 are felonies; 3rd+ are felonies; DUI with bodily harm or disfigurement is felony||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|Illinois||0.08||0.16||1st–2nd are class A misdemeanors; 3rd–4th are class 2 felonies; 5th is class 1 felony; 6th+ are class X felonies||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|Indiana||0.08||0.15||1st is class C misdemeanor; 1st high BAC is class A misdemeanor; Subsequent convictions within 5 years are class D felonies||Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)|
|Iowa||0.08||0.15||1st is serious misdemeanor; 2nd is aggravated misdemeanor; 3rd+ are class D felonies||Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)|
|Kansas||0.08||0.15||1st is class B non-person misdemeanor; 2nd is class A non-person misdemeanor; 3rd+ are non-person felonies||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|Kentucky||0.08||0.15||1st is class B misdemeanor; 2nd–3rd within 5 years are class A misdemeanors; 4th+ are class D felonies||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|Louisiana||0.08||0.15; 0.2||1st–2nd are not classified; 3rd is either misdemeanor or felony; 4th is felony||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|Maine||0.08||0.15||1st–2nd are class D crimes; 3rd+ within 10 years are class C crimes||Operating Under the Influence (OUI)|
|Maryland||0.08||0.15||All misdemeanors||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|Massachusetts||0.08||0.2||1st–2nd are unclassified; 3rd+ are felonies||Operating Under the Influence (OUI)|
|Michigan||0.08||0.17||1st–2nd are unclassified; 3rd+ are felonies||Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)|
|Minnesota||0.08||0.16||4th degree offense w/no aggravating factors is misdemeanor; 3rd degree offense w/one aggravating factor is gross misdemeanor; 2nd degree offense w/two aggravating factors is gross misdemeanor; 1st degree offense w/3+ aggravating factors is felony (Aggravating Factors: 1) any prior drunken driving offense; 2) driving with BAC >0.19; 3) driving w/passenger <16 years old if passenger is more than 36 months younger than driver)||Driving While Impaired (DWI)|
|Mississippi||0.08||NA||1st–2nd are misdemeanors; 3rd+ are felonies with 4th automatic felony carrying two to 10 years in prison||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|Missouri||0.08||0.15; 0.2||1st is intoxication offense class B misdemeanor; 1st per se offense is class C misdemeanor; 2nd class A is misdemeanor; 3rd is class D felony; 4th+ are class C felonies||Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)|
|Montana||0.08||0.16||1st–3rd are misdemeanors; 4th+ are felonies||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|Nebraska||0.08||0.15||1st–3rd w/in 15 years are class W misdemeanors; 4th w/in 15 years class are IIIA felonies; 5th+ w/in 15 years are class III felonies; Injury-related DUI is class IIIA felony; If driver with prior felony conviction with BAC >0.15 caught driving with BAC >0.02, then it's a class IIIA misdemeanor in addition to any other penalties.||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|Nevada||0.08||0.18||1st–2nd are misdemeanors; 3rd+ in 7 years are category B felonies||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|New Hampshire||0.08||0.16||1st is class B misdemeanor, 2nd–3rd are non-injury Class A misdemeanors; 4th+ are non-injury felonies; DUI with serious bodily injury is class B felony||Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)|
|New Jersey||0.08||0.15||Drunken driving is a "violation" not a "crime"||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|New Mexico||0.08||0.16||1st–3rd are not classified; 4th–5th are fourth degree felonies; 6th+ are third degree felonies||Driving While Impaired (DWI)|
|New York||0.05 (DWAI), 0.08 (DUI)||0.18||DWAI – 1st traffic violation; 2nd+ are misdemeanors|
DWI – 1st is misdemeanor; 2nd in 10 years is class E felony; 3rd+ in 10 years are class D felonies
|Driving While Intoxicated (DWI); High BAC Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated (ADWI)|
|North Carolina||0.08||0.15||1st–3rd are classified as level 1–5 based on sentence length; 4th+ are class F felonies||Driving While Impaired (DWI)|
|North Dakota||0.08||0.18||1st–2nd offense within 7 years are class B misdemeanors; 3rd offense within 7 years is class A misdemeanor; 4th+ within 15 years are class C felonies.||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|Ohio||0.08||0.17||1st–2nd are first degree misdemeanors; 3rd is misdemeanor; 4th in six years is fourth degree felony; 5th+ in any time period are third degree felonies||Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence (OVI)|
|Oklahoma||0.08||0.15||1st is misdemeanor; 2nd+ in 10 years are felonies||Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)|
|Oregon||0.08||0.15||1st–3rd are class A misdemeanors; 4th+ are class C felonies||Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII)|
|Pennsylvania||0.08||0.16||1st–2nd are misdemeanors; 3rd+ are second degree misdemeanors||Driving After Imbibing (DAI)|
|Rhode Island||0.08||0.15||1st–2nd are non-injury misdemeanors; 3rd+ are non-injury felonies; DUI w/serious bodily injury is felony||Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)|
|South Carolina||0.08||0.16||1st is misdemeanor; 2nd in 10 years is class C misdemeanor; 3rd in 10 years is class A misdemeanor; 4th+ in 10 years are class F felonies||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|South Dakota||0.08||0.17||1st–2nd class 1 misdemeanors, 3rd in 10 years is class 6 felony; 4th in 10 years is class 5 felony; 5th+ are class 4 felonies||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|Tennessee||0.08||0.2||1st–3rd class A misdemeanors; 4th+ in 10 years are class E felonies||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|Texas||0.08||0.15||1st is class B misdemeanor; 2nd in five years is class A misdemeanor; 3rd+ are third degree felonies||Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)|
|Utah||0.05||0.16||1st–2nd are class B misdemeanors; 3rd+ in 10 years are third degree felonies||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|Vermont||0.08||0.16||1st–2nd misdemeanors; 3rd+ are felonies||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|Virginia||0.08||0.15; 0.2||1st–2nd are class 1 misdemeanors: 3rd+ in 10 years are class 6 felonies||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|Washington||0.08||0.15||1st–4th gross misdemeanors; 5th+ are class B felonies||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|West Virginia||0.08||0.15||1st–2nd misdemeanors; 3rd+ in 10 years are felonies||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|Wisconsin||0.08||0.17–.199; 0.2–0.249; 0.25+||1st is municipal offense; 2nd–3rd are misdemeanors; 4th in five years and 5th–6th anytime are class H felonies; 7th–9th are class G felonies; 10th+ are class F felonies||Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)|
|Wyoming||0.08||0.15||1st–3rd are non-injury misdemeanors; 4th+ non-injury in 10 years are felonies; Serious injury DUI is felony||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
|Washington DC||0.08||0.2–0.25; 0.25–0.3; 0.3+||All are misdemeanors||Driving Under the Influence (DUI)|
Men are much more likely to engage in the type of reckless behavior that will earn you a DUI than women. Are men better drivers than women? Are women worse drivers? The facts say no, they are not.
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Traffic Violations in the USA by Gender
One of the other ways insurance companies determine how to rate by gender is by which gender is more likely to violate traffic laws. According to the IIHS:
- Males are 50 percent more likely than females to drive over the posted speed limit.
- Among drivers involved in 2018 fatal red-light running, multiple-vehicle crashes, the red light runners were more likely than other drivers to be male, to be younger, and to have prior crashes or alcohol-impaired driving convictions.
- In 2017, 92 percent of female front-seat occupants were observed using their belts, compared with 88 percent of males.
Based on these statistics, the question of who are safer drivers isn’t difficult to answer. How much a speeding ticket raises your insurance rates is dependent on a number of factors, but a speeding ticket will almost always make your premiums go up.
These factors play a part in helping insurance companies determine how much more to charge men than women for their annual premiums.
Women Are Bad Drivers — Fact or Fiction?: The Bottom Line
Are women bad drivers? Absolutely not.
This doesn’t mean there are no women who are bad at driving, simply that women, as a group, are generally excellent drivers and are not deserving of scorn. Women drivers are rewarded for their good driving abilities with lower insurance premiums than their male counterparts for the first several years behind the wheel.
Whether you’re male or female, you can find lower auto insurance rates by entering your ZIP code into our FREE tool below.
Frequently Asked Questions: Women Are Bad Drivers — Fact or Fiction?
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding women driving cars:
#1 – How many women drivers are in the U.S.?
In 2016, there were 222 million licensed drivers in the U.S., of which 51 percent were female.
#2 – What is a female driver called?
If she is driving professionally, she would be called a chauffeur or trucker or whatever specific terminology applies to her line of work. If she is driving just for her own purposes there is no special name for that.
#3 – Can I join women drivers online? Are there YouTube channels for women drivers?
There is no specific group for women drivers unless you are looking for a specific professional group as we discussed above. There are a number of youtube channels devoted to fabulous women drivers, but those are again specific to a particular industry — racing. Unfortunately, there are still some women driver YouTube channels dedicated to things like woman driver parking fails and other topics aimed at perpetuating the myth of awful women drivers.