The Question:

Why are young men more likely to be involved in a road crashes than young women?

This Q&A explores the differences in the development and behaviour of young male and female drivers, which can lead to an increased risk of road trauma.

Scope of the problem

Young drivers appear more in fatality statistics than any other age group. This is because younger drivers are 5 to 10 times more likely to incur injury because of road crashes, compared to drivers from the safest age range[1].

Differences in crash risk between younger and older drivers are often attributed to physiological, psychological, and behavioural differences associated with age. For young drivers, their increased crash risk is known to be caused by not only driving inexperience and risk-taking behaviours, but lack of neurological development. However, there are also specific differences in the crash risk of these young adults based on their gender. Young men have consistently higher rates of death than young women, even when the differences in the circumstances of the road crash are taken into account[2]. The age group of 20-24 makesup approximately 4% of the Australian population, however, males from this age group make up 10% of annual road fatalities. Women from this age group make up only 2% of road fatalities. In fact, in all but one age category (50-59), males die in a far great proportion than their share of the population[3].

In Australia, over the past 10 years, young men have been involved in substantially more road crashes than young women. As can be seen from the graph below, from 2007-2016, on average there are 5.1 fatalities of women aged 17-25 per 100,000 people. The average for young men is more than three times that, at 15.9[4].

These fatalities not only have a devastating effect on the lives of young people and their families, but also impact the economy and health care system. In Victoria, the estimated yearly lifetime care cost of young drivers injured in road crashes is $634 million[5].