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Why More Women Drivers Die In Car Crashes

Why More Women Drivers Die In Car Crashes -- Insight From Expert Car Accident Experts

Historically, statistics have shown that more men die in motor vehicle crashes than women. Whether that’s because men tend to drive more miles than women or engage more often in risky driving practices, data from 2018 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports as such. However, it has recently become more common for women to fall victim to a car accident.

A new study has reportedly found that women drivers are more likely to die in crashes involving large vehicles. The cause of this problem is due to the fact that men, especially those who have aggressive driving tendencies, are often seen operating vehicles, such as SUVs and trucks. These types of male drivers are expected to commit negligent behavior that may result in a fatal accident.

In 2018, female motorists accounted for just over half of all licensed drivers in the U.S., with more than 115 million female licensees compared to 112.46 million male licensees.

Conducted by the IIHS, the study uncovered “renewed evidence of the long-overdue reckoning the country must have with its male mega-car problem,” Streetsblog USA wrote. Our expert legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers go into this new development.

New Findings

Car crashes are largely considered a virus that’s pervasive in our society. Car crashes are reportedly the fourth leading cause of premature death in Los Angeles county, ahead of homicides, strokes, and lung cancer. Out of the 200 most populous cities in the U.S., Allstate ranked LA as the 195th safest city to drive in. Traffic deaths in the city have risen 32% in the last decade. 

Moreover, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), men cause 6.1 million accidents per year, while women cause 4.4 million.

When it comes to who is likely to survive a vehicle-to-vehicle collision, the new report showed that people of all genders roughly have an equal chance in instances when the cars they drive are similar to one another in size. But because 40% of men involved in crashes were driving taller, heavier vehicles whose designs prioritize occupant survival above all else, they had a higher survival rate than women, who represent 70% of whom were behind the wheel of small-format vehicles at the time of impact. Consequently, a New York City-specific study found evidence of the same phenomenon in America’s largest metro two years ago.

Aggressive driving also plays a large part in this. The researchers found that women-identified drivers were more likely to be struck by another driver from the side or front of the vehicle, while men-identified drivers were more likely to cause the crashes in which they were involved. And this checks off with a recent survey from AAA, which found that men are more likely to self-report dangerous driving behaviors associated with crashes, including speeding, tail-gating, and running red lights.  

As pointed out by Streetsblog USA, both findings challenge the conventional notion that women are more likely to die in crashes simply because cars are designed around the measurements of the “average” American man, and tested with crash test dummies that mimic the proportions of males. This is also in line with the report, since the IIHS researchers also found that women were about 70% more likely than men to suffer serious leg injuries in the event of a crash, possibly due to vehicle design choices that fail to consider the typical female body.

However, when it comes to each gender’s likelihood of surviving a crash, vehicle choice matters more. 

SUVs And Pickups Vs. Smaller Vehicles

As pickups and SUVs have become more popular, the distribution of vehicle types in fatal crashes has changed. Car occupant deaths have declined 49% since 1975. And yet in the same time period, pickup occupant deaths have risen 19% and SUV occupant deaths increased more than 10 times. However, since 1978, declines in death rates have been largest for SUV occupants.

According to the IIHS, the likelihood of crash death varies among the different vehicle types according to size. Small and/or light vehicles have less structure and size to absorb crash energy, so crash forces on occupants will be higher. People in lighter vehicles are at a disadvantage in collisions with heavier vehicles. Pickups and SUVs are proportionally more likely than cars to be in fatal single-vehicle crashes, especially rollovers. However, pickups and SUVs generally are heavier than cars, so occupant deaths in SUVs and pickups are less likely to occur in multiple-vehicle crashes.

In 2018, passenger vehicle occupant deaths represented 63% of the 36,560 motor vehicle crash deaths in the U.S. In the same year, cars had the highest number of deaths per registered vehicle both in single-vehicle crashes (18 per million) and in multiple-vehicle crashes (30 per million). SUVs, on the other hand, had the lowest number of deaths per registered vehicle both in single-vehicle crashes (8 per million) and in multiple-vehicle crashes (15 per million).

And this is not new information, meaning the problem has been known for decades. Per data from 2004 by the NHTSA>, the total occupant fatality rates per 100,000 registered vehicles by vehicle type and size were:

  • Compact cars, 17.76% 
  • Compact pickups, 16.87% 
  • Subcompact cars, 16.85% 
  • Midsize SUVs, 16.16% 
  • Standard pickups, 13.87% 
  • Full-size SUVs, 12.34% 
  • Full-size cars, 12.16% 
  • Midsize cars, 11.49% 
  • Minivans, 11.09% 
  • Large vans, 9.34% 

But the solution to this problem isn’t simply armoring small cars better against assaults from SUV drivers. U.S. crash testing programs have routinely failed pedestrians, bicyclists, wheelchair users, and everyone else who travels our streets outside an automobile. This is because, unlike virtually every other country, we do not test for the safety of anyone besides vehicle occupants.

However, as mega-cars increasingly dominate U.S. roads, the problem is unlikely to go away soon. In 2019, SUVs, large vans, and pick-up trucks made up 72% vehicle sales in the country. Analysts anticipate that number is likely to jump to 78% by 2025 if new car assessment programs aren’t reformed to recognize the inherent dangers of huge vehicles — both to highly vulnerable road users like pedestrians, and relatively-vulnerable drivers of small cars.

West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help

If you have sustained injuries as a result of another driver’s carelessness, you have the right to hold that driver responsible. An car accident attorney at our firm can help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering from your injury.

Call us today at (888) 979-9356 or email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring and compassionate legal team.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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