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How gender makes a difference to road safety

Men have much more chance than women of dying or being seriously injured in a road crash. A UK study suggests men have a higher chance than women of hurting other road users too. They also drive dangerous vehicles with more chance of hurting other road users. Is there too much pressure on men who drive for work?

Men hurt and get hurt

There is no doubt men suffer disproportionately to women in road accidents.

Around three quarters of road deaths in Australia, the UK, Europe and the US are men. In NSW, in the year to December 2019, nearly 4 out of 5 deaths were men. Men continued to make up around two thirds of serious road injuries.

We usually focus on the driver’s risks of injury in their vehicle rather than how they might affect other road users. This recent UK study showed vehicle type is not the only thing that causes deaths to other road users – it’s how far they travel, types of road and whether a man or woman is driving.

Men do take more risks when driving – it is possible to tell the gender of the driver by their driving style. Middle-aged men readily admit to speeding and taking risks, especially when driving alone. But, according to the UK study, men also drive more vehicles that are more dangerous.

What are dangerous vehicles?

We might not consider cars to be that dangerous. But collisions of cars cause two thirds of road deaths, four times more than trucks do. However, trucks cause five times more deaths per kilometre than cars and taxis. Not only that, the risk of death to other road users is four times higher per kilometre with a male truck driver than with a female truck driver.

Motorbikes cause only 2% of deaths but, compared to cars, cause 2.5 more deaths per kilometre to other road users. Men on motorcycles were ten times riskier to other road users than women on motorcycles. Male drivers of cars and vans had double the risk of hurting other road users.

If trucks, buses and motorbikes are dangerous, men are most likely to drive dangerous vehicles. There’s one very good reason for that – they are more likely to drive trucks or buses for work. Around 97% of truckies, 91% of bus drivers (and 90-94% of motorbike riders) are male.

Driving for work

The most common job for men in Australia is truck driving, which employs about 200,000. It has been called “Australia’s deadliest job” because of sheer distances travelled and high rates of fatigue and loneliness. Drivers say they have to manage other road users who don’t know how to drive skilfully around heavy vehicles.

Around 60% of fatal truck crashes involve a light vehicle and in 84% of cases, it was not the truck driver’s fault.

We know men in general drive twice the distance women do, on average – and are less likely to travel as a passenger. They are more likely than women to think they are safer than the average driver and to think speed limits are too low or penalties too harsh.

Meanwhile, women may be generally safer on the roads but the men lost or injured are their fathers, sons, friends or partners.

Is enough being done to protect men who have to spend long hours driving for work? Is there enough education about how driving more dangerous vehicles not only affects the safety of the driver but others on the road too?

Corrina Baird

Writer and expert greenslips.com.au

Corrina used to lend her car to her kids and discovered first hand what Ls, Ps and demerits mean for greenslips. After 20 years of writing and research in financial services, she’s an expert in the NSW CTP scheme. Read more about Corrina

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