Since I got my driver’s license three years ago, I’ve been told in several instances that apparently I am not a very good driver. I’ve never gotten in an accident or gotten a speeding ticket so who’s to judge, right? Well, I’ve gotten the majority of this negative feedback from men. While I’m not sure where this myth originated, it’s come to be almost common knowledge that men are better drivers than women. I’m curious to know if this myth true and what factor could decide this?
ABC News wrote an article based on the studies of two University of Michigan researcher’s who believe they found “outstanding” evidence to support this hypothesis. After studying accident reports from the past 20 years, they found that women were far more likely to crash into other women. They look at the percent chance that women should hit each other in six different scenarios and compared it to the chances of men. The studies showed that women exceeded the expected frequency of accidents by 25-50% in each scenario while men seemed to be 22% below they expected frequency. While this seems like strong evidence against us women, this could all be due to chance or the numbers could have been manipulated to creative a false positive.
Now let’s play the devil’s advocate and say that men have it all wrong and they are actually worse drivers. According to a study done by an online insurance provider called 4autoinsurancequote, almost 80% of fatal crashes are caused by male drivers. They throw out other statistics like in 2007, when men caused 6.1 million accidents compared to women’s 4.4 million and describe how men lead almost every category of traffic violations. I would like to believe this is true, for the sake of feminism, but I’m not sure how reliable this source is. I looked further into this and found an article from the NY Times, who took the same stance, saying that women are better drivers and gave the same 80% statistic. They brought up a good point though, that men drive 61% of the miles driven each year compared to women’s 39%, giving men more opportunity to get in an accident.
Statistics are only so much without experiments to prove them. Assuming that women are inferior to men when it comes to driving, there’s the possibility that the men’s nagging could be at fault. A researcher at the University of Queensland set up an experimental driving simulation with 168 female college students to see if a negative response to their driving makes women more likely to get in an accident. In the simulation, the women were tested on their ability to stop for an unexpected pedestrian. The experiment was a double-blind placebo trial because half of the women were told previously that the study was being done to study the stereotype and the other half did not have any idea that gender was involved. The results showed that 50% of women in the “stereotype” group hit the pedestrian. This experiment was also done when women were distracted by a spelling test and produced similar results.
So have we solved the myth of men being better drivers? The problem with statistical evidence gathered from observational experiments like the first two I mentioned is that it can be easilly manipulated to fit one’s hypothesis. In addition, one experiment and a sample size of not even 200 isn’t enough to prove that men (or mental distraction of any sort) could cause women to be bad drivers. I believe that this study is something researchers should look further into because personally, I’m tired of being nagged.
- Dye, Lee. “Are Men Better Drivers Than Women?” ABC News. ABC News Network, 15 June 2011. Web. 23 Oct. 2014. <http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/battle-sexes-men-drivers-women-dyehard-science/story?id=13841063>.
- Hartocollis, Anemona. “For Women Who Drive, the Stereotypes Die Hard.”The New York Times. The New York Times, 17 Aug. 2010. Web. 23 Oct. 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/18/nyregion/18drivers.html?_r=0>.
- Molloy, Fran. “Stereotype Stuffs up Women’s Driving.” ABC Science. ABC, n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2014. <http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2008/03/24/2197632.htm>.
- “Women Better Drivers Than Men, Says New Study From Insurance Provider.” IReach. PR Newswire Association LLC, 16 Nov. 2012. Web. 23 Oct. 2014. <http://www.ireachcontent.com/news-releases/women-better-drivers-than-men-says-new-study-from-insurance-provider-151692045.html>.