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Risk 77% higher than for women
The Associated Press


That age-old stereotype about dangerous women drivers is shattered in a big new traffic analysis: Male drivers have a 77 per cent higher risk of dying in a car accident than women, based on kilometres driven.

And the author of the research says he takes it to heart when he travels -- his wife takes the wheel.

"I put a mitt in my mouth and ride shotgun," said David Gerard, a Carnegie Mellon University researcher who co-authored a major new U.S. road risk analysis.

The study holds plenty of surprises.

For instance, the highway death rate is higher for cautious 82-year-old women than for risk-taking 16-year-old boys. And the safest passenger is a youngster strapped in a car seat and being driven during morning rush hour.

The findings are from Traffic STATS, a detailed and searchable new risk analysis of road fatality statistics by Carnegie Mellon for the American Automobile Association. The analysis shows some long-held assumptions about safety on U.S. highways don't jibe with hard numbers. It lists the risk of road death by age, gender, type of vehicle, time of day and geographic region.

"We are finding comparisons that are surprising all the time," said study co-author Paul Fischbeck, a Carnegie Mellon professor of social and decision sciences.

For example, 82-year-old women are 60 per cent more likely to die on the road than a 16-year-old boy because they are so frail, said Anne McCartt, a research official at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, who was not part of the study.

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