It depends on the weather, according to Purdue University researcher Fred Mannering. He completed a study that indicates men over the age of 45 are much more likely than women to crash their vehicles on icy or snowy roads. And if the men in the same age group happen to be driving a pickup truck, the risk of a crash goes even higher.
Why? “There may be a sense of invulnerability with four-wheel drive trucks leading the drivers to not slow down as much as they should,” Mannering said in an interview. “The reality is that four-wheel drive gets you up to speed faster in snow and ice, but it doesn’t help you stop any quicker,” reports the Chicago Tribune.
The study also indicates that men under the age of 45 are more likely than women to get into serious accidents on dry roads. This may be attributed to overconfidence on their part.
But this does not mean that women are not at risk for car accidents – just that the weather conditions are different for them. It appears that women (in all age groups) tend to lose control of their vehicles and crash when the road is wet due to their failure to sense reduced friction on wet pavement. Car accident rates for women decline on ice and snow, however.
The researcher in charge of the car accident study says, “My theory is that women tend to drive at the same speed regardless whether the road is wet or dry, failing to compensate for the reduced friction. But interestingly, women’s crash rates do go down on snow and ice.”
The basic findings of the car accident study are as follows:
- Men over 45 are 5 1/2 times more likely to be severely hurt or killed in crashes while driving on snow and ice than on wet surfaces.
- Older men driving pickup trucks were 81 percent more likely to be involved in serious accidents on snow and ice than older men driving other types of vehicles.
- Women younger than 45 were nearly three times more likely to get into serious-injury accidents on wet roads than on dry roads.
- Women over 45 were more than four times more likely to crash on wet roads than dry roads.
The conclusion of the study is that all drivers could benefit from understanding the process by which they assess and react to weather and its subsequent effect on road conditions.