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“Conduisez comme une femme,” is the slogan on a series of posters by the French safety awareness organization Victimes & Citoyens. In English that’s “Drive like a woman.” Why? Because men cause 84% of fatal road accidents in France. And The Guardian argues blokes in the U.K. and the U.S. aren’t doing much better. So would a campaign like this actually convince you to drive safely?

Here are the numbers: 91% of French drivers routinely break speed limits, 65% use cellphones behind the wheel, and–this number really gets me–32% admitted they’ve deliberately hit the vehicle of another driver who frustrated them. The Guardian writes that the French are said to be among the most aggressive drivers in Europe.

Why so aggressive, France? I suppose this is the country that hosted the world’s rowdy first automobile race in 1894. France is also home to the oldest surviving sports car race: the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which first ran in 1923. So perhaps the country’s love of speed contributes to its driving culture.

Traffic whizzing by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris
Paris traffic | Niko Sisios via iStockPhoto

The French government says 93% of drunk driving accidents are caused by gents. And messieurs are responsible for 84% of accidents overall. And they aren’t alone: A 2022 United Kingdom study found chaps three times as likely to be involved in accidents maiming or killing pedestrians. The latest numbers out of the U.S. found dudes involved in 72.3% of our fatal crashes.

Do these numbers prove that men are more dangerous drivers? I’d like to see French accident data per mile driven; I’m curious if men in France just drive more than women. I’m also curious if when a man and woman have both been drinking, the man is more likely to offer to take the wheel.

Likewise, I’d love to know more about the U.S. number: 72.3% of fatal crashes involving a man. If men make up half of all drivers, I’d think three-quarters of all crashes would involve a male driver, because there’s statistically only a 25% chance that two women collide. (All things equal: 50% of crashes would be one male driver and one female driver, and 25% would be two male drivers).

But statistics aside, I can tell you that lots of men have done bone-headed things behind the wheel. I’ve been one of them. Men may drive fast or aggressively because it feels cool and manly. Sometimes they are showing off for friends, other times for women, and sometimes just blowing off steam.

So is there a solution? Perhaps some policymaker wiser than I can think of something. I’ll tell you for certain that if men in the U.S. feel “manly” while driving fast, urging them to “drive like a woman” would only egg them on. But who knows, maybe it’ll work in France.

Next, see why one expert urges us to all “drive like a girl” in the TED talk below: