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Could increase in female drivers lower the crash rate?

A recent study has found that now, for the first time in United States history, there are more women with driver's licenses than there are men. Could this lead to a decrease in car accidents, injuries and fatalities in California and throughout the country? Some experts believe that yes, it could - but not necessarily because women are safer drivers than men.

The real reason that the increase in female drivers could lower the crash rate has more to do with women's consumer habits than their driving ability. According to a researcher at the University of Michigan Transportation Institute, which authored the study, women are more likely than men to buy smaller, more fuel-efficient and, most importantly, safer vehicles than their male counterparts.

This appears to indicate that they are less prone to accidents than men, and when those crashes do occur, they are less likely to result in serious injury or death. In fact, women tend to have a lower fatality rate per miles driven, the study reports.

Another significant reason for possible crash rate decline is the fact that women simply drive fewer miles, on average, than men. Currently, men are behind the wheel for 59 percent of all miles driven in the United States, driving about 1 1/2 times as many miles as women overall. Therefore, even though women have more than 50 percent of the driver's licenses in the U.S., the likelihood that a driver on the road should happen to be female is less than 50 percent.

What do you think? Does the fact that there continue to be more women on the road lower the potential for car accidents?

Source: Los Angeles Times, "More women than men have a driver's license - that's good news," Jerry Hirsch, Dec. 13, 2012

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