Most traditional road safety analyses have focused on the risk that drivers pose to themselves owing to their specific mode of transport, while not taking into consideration the risk they pose to fellow commuters. In an effort to fill this gap, a new study that looked at how much risk individuals pose to fellow drivers found women drivers to be safer than men for other road users.
The research analyzed the risk posed by men and women drivers to other road users by means of parameters such as six different types of vehicles, major and minor roads, and whether the setting is rural or urban. It concluded that cycles are the safest mode of transport when hazards to fellow commuters are considered. The highest risk per-vehicle kilometer was posed by trucks or lorries, with fatalities by buses being the closest in numbers.
It also analyzed how gender impacts the risk factors. In stark contrast to the popular notion about female drivers, it found that men pose a higher threat per kilometer to other road users than women. Motorbikes were associated with 2.5 times more fatalities as compared to cars.
The researchers suggest that policymakers should ensure that encouraging a shift from cars does not lead to a trend towards bikes, which puts pedestrians at risk. The authors further recommend gender equality in road transport jobs. Presently, driving jobs tend to be male-dominated.
“Greater gender equity would have a positive impact on these injuries,” commented lead researcher Dr. Rachel Aldred, a reader at the University of Westminster. “Policy-makers should be looking to measure the risk posed to others, and how to reduce it.” The researchers add, “We suggest policy-makers consider policies to increase gender balance in occupations that substantially involve driving, given the greater likelihood that other road users will be killed if men rather than women are driving or riding.”
The results of this study have been published in the Injury Prevention journal.