Everyone knows the car insurance rates are set according to the actuarial tables produced and maintained by the insurance industry. These assess the level of risk depending on who you are, how old you are, how many years you have been driving, what make and model you drive, and so on. It’s also well-known that the young are most at risk of injury or death in a motor accident. Indeed, crashes have become the leading cause of death amongst the young. Given this is an avoidable cause of death, this is a depressing reality and it’s reflected in the rates. Anyone aged under 25 years is going to be carrying a heavy burden. Even within this lowest age range, there’s a further distinction to be made. The statistics show a marked difference between the genders. Young women are significantly less likely to be involved in accidents, and even if they are unlucky, they cause less injury and damage because they tend to be driving more slowly than their male counterparts.
Now there’s new research by the Kansas Department of Transport which is aimed at improving the safety of those in the age range 16 to 24. The researchers focused on the crash database which contains all the police reports of accidents within the state. They restricted the analysis to the years 2007-2011. The results show a slightly surprising pattern. Instead of accidents being essential random events, they are predictable by gender. So here comes a list of significant differences:
• young women are 66% more likely to wear a seat belt than a young man;
• young women are 28% more likely to respect the limits on the graduated driver’s license;
• young men are more likely to be involved in accidents after dark than young women;
• young men are more likely to be involved in accidents at the weekend while young women prefer their crashes to be on a weekday;
• young women tend to stay on the public roads whereas young men have crashes off-road;
• young women are more likely to have an accident at intersections and are more likely to hit pedestrians.
The first factor is significant because those who refuse to wear seat belt are often more seriously injured despite the presence of airbags in most modern vehicles. It’s also interesting that young women respect the limitations on restricted licenses. This may just be a more general tendency to obey the law or perhaps they see these limits as a common sense way to reduce distractions and minimize risk. The tendency of young men to go out and party at weekends is not a myth. They are significantly more likely to drive under the influence of alcohol.
Although to some extent, this research is confirming the anecdotal evidence, it’s still useful and tells the state where they should aim their education and training efforts if more young people are to be saved from injury and death. In the meantime, the insurance industry will continue to use the threat of high car insurance rates to encourage them to avoid claims.