By Jennifer Geiger on May 28, 2013
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is studying how age and gender affect car crash victims, and the results aren't good for young females. NHTSA's study found that women drivers in the 21-30 age group have a 25.9% higher risk of dying in a car crash than men that age.
Female passengers in that age range also die in greater numbers: NHTSA reported that they have a 29.2% higher risk of dying in a crash than their male counterparts. The government agency speculates that in this age bracket, men tend to be larger and stronger than women, thus more likely to survive crash injuries.
Old age has its perks, however. The study also shows that after age 35, men's advantage starts to diminish and by age 70, the risk of dying in a car crash is about equal among men and women drivers. In fact, in the 65-74 age bracket, women drivers have a 1.4% lower risk than men that age.
"Young adult females are more fragile than males of the same age, but later in life women are less frail than their male contemporaries," NHTSA said in the study.
Age in general, however, puts all drivers at risk. "Occupants' fatality risk, given similar physical impacts, grows by 3 percent or slightly more for each year that they get older, starting at about 21," NHTSA said in its study.
With crash forces being equal, NHTSA found that a 75-year-old male driver is five times more likely to die in an accident than a 21-year-old male. Similarly, studies show that an elderly woman is four times more likely to die than a 21-year-old female. The good news is that these numbers keep falling thanks to increased seat belt use and more airbags in vehicles. NHTSA reports that, regardless of gender, the risk of dying in a car crash went down 42% from 1995-2002.
Assistant Managing Editor Jennifer Geiger is a reviewer, car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats, many of them while driving a minivan. Email Jennifer