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More Reasons You Shouldn't Take Rides From Strange Men (Or Any Men, Really)

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Vin Diesel

Vin Diesel

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A new survey pegs the aggressive New Yorker as the angriest behind the wheel

A new survey pegs the aggressive New Yorker as the angriest behind the wheel

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mercedes amg driving academy 2009 008

mercedes amg driving academy 2009 008

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If we had a dollar for every comedian that's cracked a joke about women and driving, we'd have enough cash in the bank to buy -- and set fire to -- every comedy club in America. Why would we do such a thing? Because studies show that men are actually far more dangerous behind the wheel. (Also: because none of us really like comedy clubs.)

When looking at the number of accidents-per-mile-traveled -- which takes into account the fact that men drive more often than women -- it does appear that female drivers are slightly more likely to wind up in auto accidents than their male counterparts. However, the accidents in which women tend to find themselves are fender-benders and other non-fatal encounters. In contrast, when we look at the number of roadway deaths, the data landscape changes dramatically: men are between 55% and 80% more likely than women to be involved in fatal crashes.

And so we ask: what's the cause for those chilling statistics?

Studies indicate that it's mostly because men are more prone to ignore traffic laws. Not only do they run red lights and execute Hollywood Stops at intersections more often than women, but they're also more prone to race other drivers, tailgate, and, most importantly, drink and drive. According to researcher Dana Yagil, "women tend to view traffic laws as just and necessary, and will obey them even when safety is not a factor. Men tend to be more skeptical, and are thus more likely to view road rules as 'optional.'" Sounds like we might've given Dana a ride at some point.

Transportation scholar (and former TV writer for shows like JAG and Xena: Warrior Princess) Eric A. Morris sees the data around male and female drivers pointing to fundamental differences between male and female genetics. Although many activists argue that men and women are essentially identical, there are some biochemical distinctions that put men at greater risk for fatal accidents -- namely, tendencies for aggression, risk-taking, and thrill-seeking, which result in faster and more reckless driving. In fact, one Canadian study found that "men drove 50 percent greater distances than women but spent only 30 percent more time doing so." Zoom-zoom, indeed.

So what does all this mean?

For men, it shows the importance of exhibiting some self control. We know that logic and reason don't always lead to changes in behavior -- if they did, we'd have a lot less drinking and driving, a reduction in communicable diseases, and far fewer politicians. However, if men understand that they have these weaknesses, they might slowly learn to make better decisions behind the wheel.

And for women, it shows the importance of dodging male drivers as though their lives depended on it. Because it might.

[Freakonomics via Vik]

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Comments (8)
  1. This goes against every stereotype about women drivers, what a crushing blow.

  2. Better at avoiding serious/fatal accidents (or the situations that get you into them), definitely. But it's that same aggression and refusal to listen to the sane voice of safety that makes men better race drivers (on the whole; all generalizations are subject to exceptions, just as some men are very safe, non-aggressive drivers). Still, I'd definitely rather hop into a car with my girlfriend than most of my male buddies, for precisely the reason noted.

  3. I never understood why men get such high marks for their driving skills. Most of the guys I know have had more tickets, more accidents and more expensive insurance premiums. Don't think it is because they are on the road more-they can't compete with Moms shuttling kids around!

  4. I never heard the term Hollywood Stops before, is that a "thing" ?

  5. I think surveys also show that men even more than women all rate themselves as Better-Than-Average drivers. Those jerkballs from New Jersey undoubtedly do, and look how much time they spend at 80 mph about a foot away from someone's rear bumper.

  6. Hey, what's wrong with Comedy clubs?
    Anyway, when riding along with my sister driving it seems like she is pretty clueless to the road rules but at the end of the day she has never had a ticket nor an accident in the 10 years she's been driving. I on the other hand have had a string of tickets and a couple of accidents - mostly because I was being pretty stupid/selfish on the road. I know I'd rather ride along with a girl driving but then again, I'd probably get very bored :-)

  7. @Eric: A "Hollywood Stop" is a rolling stop at an intersection. It's a term that my dad and his buddies have always used, so I assumed it was, in fact, a "thing", but maybe not so much.

  8. Ladies should be in the driver seat, we play nice.

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