Young men vs. women: Who drives more safely?

young male drivers vs young female drivers Young drivers make mistakes. Unfortunately, not only do these errors often lead to higher car insurance rates, but they also can have much more serious consequences.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for all Americans ages 15 to 20, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

A 2014 study by researchers at Kansas State University (KSU) found that risky driving behaviors differ by gender among drivers ages 15 to 24.

Following is a glimpse at six driving behaviors and which gender is more likely to commit them. We also offer safety tips for young drivers and savings tips that can cut insurance costs.

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young male drivers vs young female drivers seat belt

1. Wearing seat belts

Safer drivers: Women

Young female drivers are 66 percent more likely to wear a seat belt than their young male counterparts, according to the KSU study.

Wearing a seat belt cuts the risk of fatal injury to front-seat occupants by 45 percent, and the risk of critical injury by 50 percent, according to a 2009 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Safety tip: Monitor your child during the first years of driving

A 16-year-old driver has a crash rate that is twice that of drivers who are 18 or 19, according to the National Safety Council.

"Parents need to keep vigilant for the first year their teen is able to drive," says Kathy Bernstein, NSC senior manager of teen driving initiatives.

The NSC recommends that a parent sit in the passenger seat next to newly licensed teen drivers for at least 30 minutes per week during the first year the teen drives.

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young male drivers vs young female drivers restricted license

2. Not driving on a restricted license

Safer drivers: Men

Young men long have had a reputation for being more likely to break rules than young women.

However, the KSU study found that young females are 28 percent more likely than young males to drive in situations forbidden by restricted licensing rules in their state.

One example of restricted licensing is prohibiting drivers younger than 18 from driving during overnight hours. Rules vary by state.

Savings tip: Cut costs while your teen is at college

Many insurers offer discounts to parents who temporarily remove their child from the family auto insurance policy while the child is away at college.

For example, American Family Insurance offers a TimeAway discount that varies by state, but can net you savings of between 35 percent and 42 percent on some types of coverage.

"The student needs to live away at school without a vehicle," says American Family spokeswoman Sandra Spann.

Also, high school and college students who earn good grades, typically maintaining at least a B average, may qualify for a good student discount.

For example, Nationwide offers a price break of up to 15 percent, and Allstate offers up to 20 percent off.

Discounts can be even higher at some insurers -- up to 35 percent at Liberty Mutual.

"The good-student discount is a way to show teens that responsible behaviors -- such as maintaining good grades -- can be rewarded," says Liberty Mutual spokesman Glenn Greenberg.

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young male drivers vs young female drivers intersections

3. Avoiding crashes at intersections and collisions with pedestrians

Safer drivers: Men

On average, a pedestrian is killed every two hours and injured every seven minutes in traffic accidents in the United States, according to NHTSA.

Young female drivers are 18 percent more likely to have crashes at intersections and collisions with pedestrians, according to KSU.

Safety tip: Enroll in a driver safety course

Many insurance companies offer safe-driving courses that can help young drivers sharpen their behind-the-wheel skills.

For example, State Farm offers Steer Clear, a safe-driving program for policyholders under age 25.

Drivers who complete the program can save up to 15 percent on their car insurance costs.

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young male drivers vs young female drivers after sunset

4. Staying away from crashes after sunset

Safer drivers: Women

Driving at night can be dangerous. The death rate per vehicle mile of travel for all drivers is three times higher at night than during the day, according to NHTSA.

Females have 42 percent fewer crashes after sunset than males, according to the KSU study.

Savings tip: Consider purchasing an older car

Buying an older car for your teen may result in lower premium costs, says Trent Frager, a spokesman at Farmers Insurance.

"Generally speaking, an older car costs less to insure," he says. This is because cars depreciate in value as they get older.

However, older cars are less likely to have cutting-edge safety features, such as electronic stability control. Frager says parents should consider that trade-off before purchasing a car for their teen.

"We recommend parents consider safety features first," Frager says.

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young male drivers vs young female drivers accidents during weekdays

5. Avoiding accidents during weekdays

Safer drivers: Men

Driving safely during weekends   

Safer drivers: Women

The day of the week has a strong bearing on which gender is more likely to be involved in an automobile accident.

Young female drivers are 25 percent more likely to be involved in crashes during weekdays, while young male drivers are 20 percent more likely to be involved in crashes during the weekend.

Safety tip: Reduce the number of distractions while driving

More than 3,000 people were killed and 421,000 injured in auto accidents related to distracted driving in 2012, according to the most recent statistics from NHTSA.

Examples of such distractions include texting, talking to passengers and adjusting the car radio.

David Teater, senior director of transportation initiatives at the NSC, says drivers of all ages need to stay focused on the task at hand.

The Governors Highway Safety Association suggests 10 tips to reduce distractions while driving, including:

  • Prepare your route in advance so you are not checking maps or GPS devices while driving.
  • Turn off your phone and stow it.
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