Department for Transport statistics show that men are three times as likely to be killed or injured on the hard shoulder than women.
With the dark winter evenings now well and truly upon us, car care specialist Comma has been looking at the figures. According to Department for Transport (DfT) records, 2,058 men were killed or injured on the motorway hard shoulder between 1994 and 2008, compared with 768 women.
The deaths and injuries are related to car breakdowns at the roadside.
Women follow rules better
Although men do travel more then women, DfT statistics reveal that the difference is only 20% – not enough to explain the additional accidents. Comma therefore concludes the difference is due to men being more likely to attempt to investigate the problem, rather than moving a safe distance from the car and awaiting professional rescue as road safety agencies advise.
According to Philip Hodson, Fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy: ‘Men tend to be ego-driven, meaning that they prefer to be seen as the rescuer in situations like a car breakdown. They will, more often than not, tend to believe that they can fix the problem even if, in reality, they couldn’t even begin to comprehend the car’s technology.
Women, on the other hand, are more realistic – about their own technical competence, the danger involved in the situation or even just that they don’t want to get their hands dirty. So they are naturally more inclined to follow the safety rules.’
Wear something bright at night
Whatever the reason, such situations are not helped by the fact that, unlike other European countries, the UK does not require drivers to carry high visibility clothing in the car at all times in case of an emergency.
Comma cites a study suggesting that high-visibility clothing can offer up to a 400% increase in the distance at which other road users can see people at the roadside (Auto Express, October 2007), and points out this is particularly relevant in the darker winter months.
According to further DfT statistics from 2008, night time accidents at night are twice as likely to lead to a fatality compared with those happening in daylight.
In order to help promote road safety and visibility, Comma is currently giving away 150,000 high visibility vests with 5-litre packs of its Performance Motor Oil.
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