Possible Duplicate:
Does gender affect driving skill?

Time and time again I hear that "women shouldn't be allowed on the road because they are bad drivers" or similar stories.

I'm personally of the opinion that with an activity like driving a car (primarily non-physical - unless it breaks down!), there shouldn't be much of a difference in potential ability - is there any evidence to support this argument?

  • Well, as long as you're not applying make-up while driving, there really shouldn't be any difference. Jun 4, 2011 at 14:27
  • women car park places pictures say more than words ;) Jun 4, 2011 at 15:04
  • "driving ability" is entirely too vague to be argued for or against. There are gender differences that make certain aspects of driving more male-suited on average (spacial orientation, navigation abilities, decisiveness), and some that make women better in some respects (less risky driving behavior, less unnecessarily aggressive driving). Also, as comments to the answer noted, even the most sane metrics (accident risk as measured by insurance premiums) would be subject to adjustment factors which make it difficult to correllate with "better driving ability")
    – user5341
    Jun 4, 2011 at 19:02
  • My wife can drive. I can't :( Should I make this an answer.
    – user4951
    Feb 28, 2012 at 6:19

1 Answer 1


You don't really say what you mean by "ability" here. But let's presume a definition of driving ability includes "operating a vehicle in a safe manner." So if we may judge by who has lower auto insurance rates, and if you think safety is an important component of skillful driving, then women may actually be the better drivers:

According to information collected by InsWeb, the median car insurance rate for women is about 9% lower than the rate for men.

The national median rate for women is $698 for a six-month policy. For men, it's $765.

In fact, according to the linked table, in only one state in the U.S. (Iowa) did women pay (slightly) higher premiums than men.

There are other factors considered in the study, including size of car, relative horsepower, etc. But insurance companies make money by matching premiums to the size of the risk. And clearly they think women are a better bet to be good drivers.

  • What is the ratio of men-to-women drivers in these areas? This can be a major factor too, although not so much for safety but because with a larger "profiled" group of people there is more demand and so the insurance company can also get away with charging more (due to this higher demand). My point is that although insurance rates can be a helpful indicator (because the Actuaries do consider many factors and details), they also shouldn't be entirely trusted due to the "profit motive" that can seriously taint the numbers. +1 for an interesting answer though. Jun 4, 2011 at 16:22
  • 1
    @Randolf Richardson: Thanks for your kind words. I'm not sure what the ratio of men to women would mean to an actuary, however. Men under the age of 21 are a small proportion of the driving population, yet they pay the highest premiums. If I understand your argument, it would seem they should pay premiums according to the proportion of the population they represent.
    – Robusto
    Jun 4, 2011 at 17:24
  • 2
    An alternative explanation for the data might be that women drive less than men.
    – Christian
    Jun 4, 2011 at 17:42
  • @Robusto: There are many factors, and @Christian just pointed out a good one. Particularly with teenagers, many of whom apply intense amounts of pressure to their parents to help them get a car, they also tend to expect their parents to help them pay for insurance (reasons may include work, fitting in better with their peer group, serving high-maintenance girlfriends, etc.). The demand is very strong in this age group, as is the lack of life experience, partying habits, effects of peer pressure (e.g., to drive fast), etc., and I'm sure the insurance companies factor this in to the pricing. Jun 4, 2011 at 18:15
  • 3
    An additional skew factor is that women are the primary kid chauffeurs. ANYONE driving with their kids - male or female - is going to be a safer, more careful driver than by themselves; and women being the majority of kid-conveyors means that this effects benefits their safety/lack of accidents score.
    – user5341
    Jun 4, 2011 at 19:06

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .