Why are more men than women involved in Colorado traffic accidents? Is it the old cliché about terrible men drivers? Well, not quite…

Yes, the Evidence Suggests—but for Two Very Different Reasons

If you are a male passenger or driver of a car in Colorado—or any other state, for that matter—you are more than twice as likely to die from crash injuries than a female driver or passenger. That is true year after year and all across the country.

The startling trend is borne out by statistics gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

What the Numbers Don’t Explain: Why It’s Happening

In 2014, 359 males and 129 females died in car accidents on Colorado roads, almost three times as many males as females. In 1994, 403 males and 183 females died on those roads, more than twice as many males as females.

The story is the same across the United States. In 2014, 23,220 males died in road accidents, 9,438 females. In 1994, 27,411 males died, 13,293 females.

Why? There’s plenty of guesswork; perhaps, some suggest, men are more aggressive or reckless drivers than women. Could this kind of difference explain the discrepancy?

It does—in part.

How Well People Drive Versus How Often They Drive

NHTSA data, as reported by NBC News, suggests that men do often drive more aggressively than women, resulting in more severe crashes.

Men are also more likely to drive drunk. Nearly 25 percent of male drivers in fatal crashes in 2012 had blood alcohol levels of more than 0.08 percent, the threshold at which drivers are regarded as being under the influence of alcohol; but only 15 percent of female drivers were comparably impaired.

On the other hand, men are simply on the road more. They drive 50 percent more miles on average than women do. Take, for instance, road-oriented trades like the commercial truck industry, where men make up between 94 and 96 percent of drivers.

Road conditions also matter. For example, of the 488 people who died from crashes on the Colorado roads in 2014, 239 crashed in clear daylight, 100 did so at night in lighted places, 101 at night on unlit roads, 16 at dusk. Four crashed during rainfall, 22 during snow.

If You Want to Survive on the Road, Act Like It

A history of traffic violations is one factor in fatal accidents. In 2014, 6.6 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes had been involved in previous crashes; 12.9 percent had had their licenses suspended or revoked at one time or another; 3.4 percent had been convicted of driving while intoxicated; 17.8 percent had speeding convictions on their record; 20.3 percent had been convicted of other related infractions.

In 1994, the percentages were a little higher or the same in these categories. But the pattern was similar.

In both years, most fatal accidents involved drivers with no previous convictions. In 1994, 60.8 percent of the drivers in the fatal accidents had no prior convictions; in 2014, 56.9 percent had clean histories. Accidents can happen regardless of the skill or care of the driver, obviously. But what’s also obvious is that a disproportionately high percentage of drivers in the fatal accidents do have prior violations, a percentage that is much higher than the percentage of drivers with violations in the general population.

Which means that, just as common sense would suggest, your risk of getting into an accident is bigger—much bigger—if you’ve got a track record of careless driving or are a careless driver who hasn’t been caught yet. So drive carefully.

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