Women much safer behind the wheel, statistics show



DUBAI // Women are responsible for a tiny fraction of traffic accidents, new statistics show.

In the first quarter of the year, women caused just 8.8 per cent of the 363 traffic accidents in Dubai, according to traffic prosecutors.

In the 32 accidents caused by women, two people died, 11 were moderately injured and 43 people sustained minor injuries.

The figure reflects a slight fall on the year before, when women were blamed for 29 of the 325 accidents registered between January and March - or 8.9 per cent.

That year, their accidents left five people dead, two seriously injured 18 with moderateinjuries and 31 with minor injuries.

Men, on the other hand, were responsible for 331 accidents, killing 24, seriously injuring 36, causing moderate injuries to 179 people and minor injuries to 320 others.

In 2011, they were responsible for 89.85 per cent of all accidents, killing 28 people, seriously injuring 42, moderately injuring 153 and causing minor injuries to 227 people.

Robert Hodges, the chief operating officer of Emirates Driving Institute, said he was not surprised by the low proportion.

"Women do seem to drive more cautiously than men," he said. "Many young men can be particularly aggressive drivers, while many women are more conscious of the threat from other road users.

"They are more likely to take less risks on the road, because of a fear of harming themselves, or - in the case of mothers - their children, if they are in the car."

But, given that there are fewer women in Dubai, and therefore statistically fewer female drivers on the roads, are the latest figures as impressive as the seem?

Specific figures for the number of registered male and female drivers in Dubai were not available, but in Abu Dhabi, there are 776,771 registered male drivers and 129,808 female drivers.

"Given that the numbers [in Abu Dhabi] are close to those in Dubai, the ratio of accidents among males would be almost double that among females," said Mohamed Madi, a professor of statistics at UAE University.

The results also tally with a study in the capital last year, which found that men were 63 per cent more likely to be involved in a car accident than women, and 43 per cent more likely to break the speed limit.

At the time, Dr Taha Amir, a UAE University psychology professor, said women were programmed to drive differently to men.

"Females play a far greater role in reproduction and rearing of offspring than males, so they are genetically programmed to be more careful and not to take unnecessary risks," he said.

"This is not a conscious choice; it takes place without conscious awareness."

Figures from Dubai traffic prosecutors also revealed the top cause of traffic accidents in Dubai was failing to leave a safe following distance between cars, which resulted in 110 accidents. Drinking and driving caused 66 accidents from January and March, while sudden swerving caused 96 accidents.

Salah Bu Farousha, the head of Dubai Traffic Prosecution, said prosecutors tend to seek the maximum punishments allowed by the law. He added:"Most of the time our prosecutors succeed and the court announces verdicts in their favour.

mcroucher@thenational.ae

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