One gender stereotype that will never go away is women drivers equals disaster. It all began around the time I started taking driving lessons. One day, I was driving, and one my male friends said, “What’s the point? You’ll be bad at it anyway.” Though he intended it to be a joke, I took offense. We both argued about it for minutes; the result of which was detailed research we ended up doing on this topic.
Where Did It All Start?
We are all fed stereotypes from the time we are born. For someone like me, who now questions every norm existing in our society, I questioned this typical stereotype too, and I believe I may have found the origin of this misconception.
Back in 1962, a cartoon called ‘The Jetsons’ aired on ABC as the first coloured cartoon on television. It was set in the future in 2063. The show was about the Jetsons family who lived in the futuristic Orbit City, which had flying cars and other highly futuristic gadgets. Despite the technology overload, the cartoon hit a raw nerve for promoting rather outdated and traditional ideas, including about women.
One of the episodes called ‘Jane’s Driving Lesson’, played a sexist narrative about women being terrible drivers. There’s a point in the show, where George Jetson pulls up his flying car next to a female driver on the flying car superhighway and after he gets confused by her hand signals, he shouts at her saying, “Women drivers, that’s the problem!” The show went on and is still on the air on some networks.
Another school of thought says that in 1914, during World War I, the men went to fight and the women were encouraged to learn driving. After the war ended, and men finally returned home, they feared the independence that driving cars offered to women. That is also when the first myths about women’s average road skills started to surface.
So even history has no legit proof that says women are bad drivers and if it was a stereotype, which came into existence because of a myth intentionally created by the rulers of patriarchy, can’t we break it already? Anyway, the next way to settle this debate was to look at statistical studies.
Will You Believe The Stats?
Men, as they like to boast, do believe in logic more than anything. So, let’s look at this issue from a unbiased perspective. Let’s judge both men and women on the same criteria.
According to a study by Ole Johansson from the Institute of Transport Economics in Norway, posted in The Week in 2017, women are less likely to be distracted while driving than men.
The research surveyed a large group of students and adults. It covered a variety of topics, including the frequency and type of distractions the participants experience during driving. The attitudes and intentions around driver distractions, and their personalities were also analysed.
“I found that young men were among the most likely to report distraction,” said Johansson in the study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. “Others more prone to distraction include those who drive often, and those with neurotic and extroverted personalities,” he added.
Now that’s just one study, right? And basing a conclusion on that would just not be enough, would it, boys?
So, we checked other studies too.
Male Vs Female Driving Statistics
1. Rate of accidents
According to a New York City Traffic Study, 80% of all automobile accidents that kill or injure pedestrians involve male drivers. According to a study by Quality Planning, an insurance statistics company, female drivers were also 27% less likely to be found at fault when involved in an accident.
2. Traffic violations
According to the same New York City Traffic Study, men are more likely than women to get cited for reckless driving (3.41 men to 1 woman ratio), driving under the influence (3.09 men to 1 woman ratio), seat belt violations (3.08 men to 1 woman ratio), speeding (1.75 men to 1 woman ratio), and stop signal violations (1.53 men to 1 woman ratio).
3. Practical driving test pass rates
Based on data from the Driving Standards Agency on practical driving test pass rates, nearly half of male drivers, around 48%, passed their test first time, with around 44% of female drivers passing at their first try. The same research also discovered that women take an average of eight months to pass their practical driving test – two months more than men, who qualify for it after six.
So, Who Wins?
Well, the competition was close but with all the information, we can sum up this debate and say that women do drive better than men. According to various research and even history, casually passing off women as bad drivers is definitely not a conclusion we’d like to jump to. The ability to drive well is not subject to genders, rather it’s something that requires skills. So, to all the women reading this, the next time someone shoves this stereotype in your face, you’ll have proof that says otherwise. And to the men reading this, think twice before you call a woman a bad driver just for the heck of it.
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