Women who get behind the wheel are now more likely to have road accidents than men in Switzerland according to figures released Wednesday by the country’s biggest accident insurance specialist, Suva.
Female drivers shouldn’t be considered more dangerous though warned Suva. In fact, they are less likely to have an accident than a decade ago, but men have managed to do even better over the same period.
For working men between the ages of 18 and 64, the chances of having an accident has dropped 26 per cent, and even over a third when it comes to serious injuries. For women in the same age group, the risk has only fallen 15 per cent, meaning they are now 25 per cent more likely to have an accident than male drivers.
Suva said if the number of kilometres travelled were taken into account, the risk factor was even double for women, who drive 40 per cent less than men on average.
The insurer pointed out that working women were most likely to have an accident between seven and eight o’clock in the morning . “It seems that dense morning traffic is a critical factor,” added Suva.
The insurer said that the study it commissioned suggested that stress and a lack of driving experience could explain the result.
Suva suggests that targeting prevention campaigns at women, as it has done with men in the past, could help lower the number of accidents.
The Swiss Council for Accident Prevention reacted to Suva’s proposal. While admitting that women were now more likely to have some kind of accident, a point highlighted in a report it published two years ago, the council said targeted prevention measures were not the solution.
It pointed out that prevention campaigns should aim to reduce the total number of accidents rather than target categories of drivers. It added that nearly two out of three fatal road accidents or with serious injuries were caused by men.
Accidents involving a male and a female driver also show that men are responsible in 54 per cent of all cases, women in 40 per cent. Shared responsibility accounts for the rest.
The council said that Suva’s proposed prevention campaign would certainly not solve one issue it highlighted – the lack of time behind the wheel. Driving more would mean more cars on the road, a practice that would run counter to current transport policy.
Insurance companies register an annual average of 50,000 people injured in road accidents in Switzerland. The cost is around SFr800 million ($865 million) every year, or 31 per cent of the global amount spent on payouts for non-work-related injuries.
swissinfo.ch and agencies