Study: Men, Women Drivers Violate Different Rules of the Road

By: Bridget Clerkin April 26, 2018
A recent study found women are slightly more likely than men to use their phones while driving.
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If men are really from Mars and women from Venus, it goes to follow that their driving habits would be informed by their respective home planets—and a new study shows the old adage may be onto something.

Women have long been thought to express themselves more frequently—and more verbally—than men, and apparently that characteristic is also true behind the wheel.

Female drivers were found to spend more time on their phones than their male counterparts, using the communication device in 42% of their collective trips on the road, compared to 38% of trips piloted by male drivers.

The finding was part of a voluminous recent survey conducted by car insurance shopping service EverQuote, which utilized its safe-driving app, EverDrive, to track the roadway behaviors displayed by thousands of Americans over the course of 781 million miles.

Still, while women exhibited more tendency to talk, men channeled more of the classic aggressive traits promoted by Mars, the Roman god of war. Behind the wheel, men were more susceptible to speeding—which took place in 16% of their trips, compared to 14% for women—and making “hard turns,” which happened in 12% of male-piloted rides compared to 10% where a woman was at the helm. (The findings mirror some statistics used to derive car insurance quotes, which are typically more expensive for men.)

Overall, however, EverQuote notes the gender differences are small, and men and women both contributed to risky behavior behind the wheel, including speeding, which took place in 38% of all trips—with drivers pushing the speed limit for an average of 8% of their ride.

Phones were also reportedly used a collective 38% of the time, with drivers engaging with the device, on average, for about 3 minutes over the course of a ride—or about 11% of the trip’s total duration.

And more so than gender, location seemed to be the factor most indicative of bad behavior behind the wheel.

The Northeast was pegged as the most dangerous for driving, with motorists from Maine to Maryland exhibiting much more of a lead foot—speeding in 48% of total trips—and a tendency to “aggressively accelerate” than the rest of the country. (Indeed, the top five states ranked worst for driving were all representatives of the megalopolis, including Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland.)

Conversely, the mountain west was deemed the safest place to be on the road, with drivers in Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Alaska, and Idaho doing a particularly good job to keep their states among the top five safest.

And while overall phone usage on the road was found to be the strongest in the South (with drivers utilizing the devices a collective 41% of the time), the survey also uncovered an encouraging correlation: drivers in states with stricter laws banning cell phones behind the wheel consistently ranked safer than those in states that didn’t, showing some bad behaviors can be curbed.

(When it comes to misdeeds conducted on either side of the male/female divide, however, the jury’s still out.)

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