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Thursday, June 25, 1998 Published at 11:50 GMT 12:50 UK


Talking Point


Are women better drivers than men? Your reaction

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Of course the AA would say that wouldn't they! They have, after all, a commercial interest in sucking up to lady drivers. What their survey also did not take into account is the number of miles on average that a lady driver does compared to her male counterpart. A man may do an average of 12,000 miles per year compared to an average of 5,000 for a lady. It doesn't take a maths genius to work out the fact that the more miles you spend on the road, the more chance you have of having a collision. I personally put lady drivers into two main categories:
1. The defenders! These are the ladies who take 30 seconds to move away from a green light. They look right/left/right/left/right/left at the T-junction and after all that they disengage the handbrake first then look again left/right/left/right etc etc. Then, by this time, another vehicle is coming so we go through the same procedure again.
2. The feminists! They have such a chip on their shoulder that they use the car as a way to confront men. They drive right up behind you and then back off but it proves they are butch. They are forever going through traffic lights on the amber but will still try and nip through on the red and when you try to remonstrate they give you the victory sign inverted! All to prove how liberated they are.
The worst one in my book is on the motorway. No matter what, if anything is in the inside lane they will, without fail stick to that middle lane like glue. Although it's against the law they feel "safe" in the middle lane and if you flash them they totally ignore you and when you pass on the outside they either give you the victory, call you a name or flash their headlamps at you. Who are you kidding AA?
Mark Wallace, UK

I quite agree that in terms of total annual "body count" of drivers killed per year, men top the field. I do not know how this stacks up against the numbers of miles per capita per gender driven. As with so many other matters that are supposed to prove our gender superiority (in this case, "fender" superiority), I believe it comes down to for what purpose the individual drives. Men (for now) are the dominant players in over-the-road (OTR) commercial driving, which in and of itself is a profoundly dangerous occupation, bearing in mind the driver is moving from 20,000 to 100,000 lbs of heavily-laden vehicle down the pike in a sea of passenger vehicles that think nothing of jamming on the brakes when just ten feet in front of a lorry which needs three times the distance a passenger cars needs in order to stop. Likewise it is more likely for a man to be a vehicle-bound salesperson spending 5 to 10 hours per workday either making local deliveries in a small truck or acting as sales representative for a commercial firm.
I do not take issue with the fact that women drivers are less likely to take the wheel under the influence of alcohol and/or illegal substances than men, though I believe a larger percentage of women are users of prescription behaviour-modifying drugs (small wonder, with the pressures on them of the sort which prevail today, never mind if these pressures are a product of media-induced wants for lifestyles only a purely asocial, amoral individual with no mind of their own would want). Likewise the level of training accepted and taken by women exceeds that of men, as men are inclined to feel they should be able to drive intuitively, whereas a woman will read the manual or take classes in greater depth. I believe women also have to wait until later in life until they obtain a vehicle, which also accounts for the better stats; it is a function of respecting a possession one took a bit longer than usual to be able to acquire, a reflection on the status of relative earning power between men and women.
It is a question of a different bundle of experiences leading up to taking the wheel as individuals, not a question of inherent gender or other identity-related characteristics which result in the superior stats.
Walt O'Brien, USA

Our male inability to admit that we can't do something well is the single reason why women are better drivers than men. Until we stop seeing every junction as a starting grid and every gap a challenge, we will continue to be second rate drivers. Perhaps it's the years of us looking down at women drivers that is the reason why they have learned to do it so well. Passing your test first time doesn't make you a better driver, luckier maybe but not better.
P Lawrence, UK

You have got to be joking!!! Just take a look at the middle lane members club and the parking attempts on shopping days!!!
Richard, UK

It has nothing to do with male/female - it is due to competence and circumstances. Even the best of drivers may perform differently depending on stress level. I suspect that many women find themselves ferrying children under a time constraint from A - B.
There is also a maxim about men with hats, smoking pipes and women with gloves - should all these stereotypes also be believed? Statistically we should compare like with like - that means not only the gender factor but also the surrounding emotional, environmental, route patterns etc.
B Black, Germany

This issue is not one of whether men or women are better drivers, but one about road safety, or perhaps it concerns the ethics of driving a car full stop. On the first point, it is generally accepted that fast driving is more dangerous, (though some on this site have pointed out that fast driving is not proven to be the problem it is made out to be. By 'gendering' the issue (playing the feminist card) those who campaign for road safety aim to make up for years of failed advertising campaigns.
Secondly, there is the 'environmentalist' agenda that aims to stop us from driving the car altogether. One anti-car group of the 'reclaim the streets' brand recently declared that the car was a substitute for sex ie it is all those fragile male egos who want cars so that they can drive fast and get a fast orgasm. The implication behind this argument is that we should all chose chastity and take the bus or train instead.
Not everyone will agree with these comments, but I advise readers to look beyond the easy gender arguments in this debate.
Martin Earnshaw, UK

Women are probably more cautious. However, "driving" also includes knowledge of the car and what you are doing to it. I have yet to be driven by a woman who knows what happens under the bonnet and drives accordingly. Burning the clutch, crashing the gears, running on low tyre pressure/oil/water and turning the wheel when the car is stationary are all commonplace. Pedestrians are safe but the car does not last long.
Michael Swain, Bermuda

I'm unsure about women being better drivers. I believe women to be better drivers than men when it comes to taking less risks, but men do not get preoccupied and pay better attention to the road and other drivers. I do not think women behind the wheel of a Sports Utility Vehicle should even be allowed on the road; those vehicles give them a feeling of too much power and they are dangerous drivers, especially when there are children in the car.
In fact, I recently was rear-ended by a woman on the freeway when she did not notice that I was stopped in traffic because she was looking down to get something out of her purse. When I stopped she was so angry with me for stopping and her reason for yelling at me was because she was late. This is the perfect example of a woman not paying attention and suffering from major road rage.
Aimee Nicklin, USA

US statistics state just the opposite - that is, taking into account the amount of time spent behind the wheel and miles driven, that men are slightly better drivers than women. Also that the driving style of women lends itself to unsafe driving conditions for men.
George Prince, USA

Women have never outshone men in any field. They are just Wannabes in all fields. They are better off doing what GOD intended them to do...raise kids.
Vik, India

Men and women drivers. What is the difference? It's how the people themselves react behind the wheel. Each person has there own particular traits. I've met quite a few competent drivers of both sexes. It's just the traditional angst of one side claiming to be better than the other.
Peter Mc Cormack, Ireland

No doubt the AA comment is based on statistics which can be used to tell us anything. 40 years experience tells me that women just don't have it.
Iain S Stewart, Malaysia

Women are more careful than men and, generally, women drink less.
Xu Fujin, China

Women are better drivers because they use cars as a means of transportation. Many males use cars as a means to establish an identity, and take risks with it to do so.
Peter Gordon, Australia

Women drivers are technically inferior to male drivers, with poorer spatial awareness. However men are saddled with testosterone and should be excused from making bad decisions.
Pete Davies, UK

Women are less likely to be in high-speed chases, stopped by the police for speeding, or stopped for drunk driving because we know the results of stupid driving. Men don't care about their driving, whereas we do. Men do all the risk taking and women do all the shopping.
Mary Hilton, USA

I feel that the standard of women drivers has dropped considerably, especially among the under thirty drivers, until it is just about as bad as that of men. I also feel that women drive less during peak hours which may distort the insurance figures that seem to be the main way of computing standards. After the successful "Crash" series, why not have a two or three part series actually comparing drivers of all ages and backgrounds?
Lesley, Australia

They must be better as they get the lower insurance rates.
Don Milnes, Canada

Are women or men the better drivers? I think it depends on whether they have been drinking.
Stuart Robertson, UK

It's a known scientific fact that women have inferior depth perception. FWIW, there's really not a whole lot of difference in driving skills generally. I believe it mainly depends on the temperament of the person involved (there are some terrible male drivers as well).
AJ Buckingham, America

As a male I can say that women are better drivers than men. They don't see driving as a sex thing, a competition, they see it as a means of getting from A to B. Men will always think they are better drivers than women simply because what they consider as good driving conflicts with women's view. Men consider good driving not in terms of how safe you are but how fast you can go and how you can bend the rules and get away with it.
Ruaridh Shuttleworth, Scotland

When women have only driving on their minds they are as skilful as men. I think their reputation arises from their often thinking of many other things as they drive. Men are more inclined to regard driving as an end in itself whereas for women it's often just something their bodies are doing as they are on their way to do something more interesting.
Andy Rooney, England

Men seem to take the attitude that if a female driver drives badly, that's because she's female. If a male driver drives badly, that's because he's just a bad driver. Men and women I know have similar driving skills.
Pete Bowman, UK

Women are better drivers than men because they can even make-up while driving.
Ycha, South Korea

Women are competent divers but are not better drivers than men as they usually they are driving too slow to make any mistakes.
Yuri Panton, England

I very much disagree that women drivers anticipate hazards better than men would like to know where they get tere facts. It is a fact that you see a lot less female drivers in times of bad weather and in darkness when driving conditions are poor.
Mike Jones, UK/Nederland

I don't think women drive better. Like elderly, they are just more stressed by the road so they drive slower. This doesn't mean they are better drivers. They may then cause accidents because they don't react fast enough in dangerous situations to avoid them.
Dominique da Silva, Québec

I think so, having driven for over 40 years. However, once women get older they appear more hesitant. Maybe this is a good thing?
Marilynn Manley, Canada

The majority of children are driven(by car) to school by their mums. If men were to drive in the morning/afternoon with children/babies in the back seat there would definitely be more accidents.
M Kanal, UK

Women are slower drivers than men, and this may perpetuate the facile observation that they are somehow "safer" drivers. However, because they are so slow they are nuisances on our highways and probably cause a great number of accidents that would not happen but for their obstruction of traffic. Please accelerate and hold due speed, Ladies!
Michael Bishop, USA

Not here in the U.S they are not. Admittedly, they are not as aggressive as men, but women drivers tend to make turns without regard to other traffic, change lanes without looking, run stop signs and cause others to have accidents because of their unpredictability. While male drivers are overly aggressive, women drivers tend to be overly cautious and slow to react.
A. C. Rami, Houston, USA

In general women tend to be more considerate to other drivers, whether male or female, but some male drivers tend to show off by either speeding, overtaking and then cutting across, I have encountered that if a women has a sports car, then the male driver wants to showoff by always trying to overtake ie. speeding.
Anna, Switzerland

Fine. So fewer women are involved in accidents. But how many cause men to be have men to have accidents - through bad driving and nagging in the passenger's seat.
Stewart Strong, Scotland

Whilst I will agree that men are generally more aggressive drivers than women, I think most men have a better understanding of what the machine is doing and of what is happening around them. In my experience if a male driver 'cuts up' another driver it is done deliberately and decisively, fully aware of what they are doing. When I've been 'cut up' by female drivers it has been done because they were simply oblivious to my presence and not aware of what they were doing. Also, women generally don't understand the relationship between gears, engine speed and engine power, and consequently scare the pants off me when they overtake - it seems to be that gears are merely related to velocity, "I'm doing a certain speed therefore I need to be in the gear that is 'for' that speed". Finally, I do know some very competent female drivers, I just know some awful ones too.
Gareth Jones, England

Women can generally drive as well as men but don't always know how their car works and this often gives the impression they aren't driving properly.
Freddie Hawkins, UK

It all depends how you define 'better'. Women tend to be more cautious and in my experience more willing to listen when learning.
Mark Pearson, England

I think that women are better drivers as they are less likely to get all het up when someone gets in their way. I must add though, that when my friend and I go out in her car, as soon as a man sees that it has a spoiler on the back, he decides that she is a challenge to him.
Louise Edmunds, UK

Elderly women are the absolute worst drivers - followed by all other women. In the city where I live, police reports confirm that 69% of all traffic accidents are caused by females.
Jay Sweat, USA

Women drivers have the most amount of accidents around the are I live. They are just a hazard to the road and should take 2 tests to pass a driving test. The insurance on women should be higher than the men. The reason why statistics show that women are better drivers are that there are more men on the road in the UK and women always analyse these statistics.
Julian Garrett, Scotland

I think it is a case of some women are better than men, some are worse. However, I have noticed that black drivers are better than white - and yes, I am white.
Julian Ware-Lane, England

I'll start off by saying that my daughter is a better driver than I am. Here, in the US, I have noticed that the majority of women who could be categorized as unsafe drivers are those who have bought in to the Suburban Utility Vehicle (SUV) craze. It puts the fear of God in me as I witness a diminutive woman sitting behind the wheel of one of these rolling behemoths, driving with one hand and talking on a cellular phone. Four to five tonnes of vehicle (usually going faster than the posted speed limit )weaving to and fro in the driving lane(s)driven by a woman with what appears to be complete disregard for fellow motorists. During our winters in New York State, the daily newspapers frequently carry articles about SUVs spinning out of control and turning and rolling over. In the majority of cases this happens, a woman was the driver. We see way too much of such scenarios in this country. Bad combination: large SUVs and cellular phones.
Donald McKay, USA

Women are better drivers not because of their skill so much as their consideration for other drivers. Also, men are pretty bad, bad passengers on the whole... especially as a passenger after a few!
Paul Bell, Nigeria

I must confess that women take probably for care while driving, but.....from what I see on a daily basis - they are dreadful when it comes to parking, they do not know what to do when an emergency vehicle in action comes near them and they love to block junctions. In their defence I should mention that men are quite often reckless drivers who are determined to force their way through traffic. These are observations I made in London!
Felix von Baudissin, UK

The women who have driven while I (male) am in a car tend to be better drivers than men. They ARE cautious, but most of the comments from males in reply to your question seem to think that caution = slow, which just indicates how appalling the general attitude towards driving is in this country. There is nothing which slows you down more than having an accident, and, as most of those who criticise slow driving acknowledge, faster driving leads to more accidents. However, the majority of ALL drivers in the UK are very bad (dangerous) - male or female.
Chris Beazer, UK

Just my experience, but ... 'odd' behaviour is usually down to a female driver. Tailgating on motorways when the overtaking lane is empty; indicating right when exiting from a traffic island; stopping at a traffic island when there's no other vehicles driving around it; holding animated conversations with female passengers instead of watching the road. Frightening.
Trevor Gibson, UK

Firstly, yes men are in more accidents than women, however the ratio of miles driven by men compared to women is a lot greater than the men to women accident ratio! Secondly, why is it that at every accident scene a woman continues to drive away completely oblivious of the accident she has just caused! Finally, in rush hour traffic why is it that the only cars overtaking are little boxes with sewing machine engines driven by aggressive young women? Maybe they think rush hour means they have to rush!
David Thomas, Australia

Women,always seem to be the slow drivers that hog the road.Also,they seem to believe they are always right,because at a multi stop sign corner they go first no matter if they are not supposed to go first,they always think of themselves on the road first and others 2nd,and WOMEN ALWAYS HESITATE WHEN IT IS VITAL THEY SHOULD NOT HESITATE causing mass confusion and possible accidents!
Dave Halverson, USA

Oh Yeah, they drive much better then men - that's because they never go over 20 mph. I personally think women shouldn't even drive, they are the number one cause of road blocks.
Omar Ashraf, United States Of America

Women are better drivers than men; it is well established that they crash into other people less often, and what is more important than that? Women drive just as skillfully as men, of course, but good driving is less a matter of skill than of attitude. The attitude needed for safe driving is one of unselfishness and concern for other people, and women drivers exhibit this attitude more than do men drivers.
Lowell Ross, USA

Women are brought up to follow the leader and they rarely know the correct move to make in a sticky situation.
Gary G. Rexroat, U.S.A.

Here in Australia, where nearly all drivers are bad, young women in particular tend to be fast and agressive. Tailgating (driving too close to the car in front) is a particular trait. Logic doesn't appear to exist in their mentality. Sorry girls.
Ray Marsh, Australia

I think women drivers are better than men because women drive more cautiously than men.
Wee Siu Hui, Malaysia

The fast foot of a female on the break earlier than expected or exacuted by a male points to females hitting it more often and earlier than expected/anticapated causing havoc and fear among males driving around and behind them. p.s. this earlier breaking power (at least with the females I've encountered) is not in a small way connected with a greater fear of having an accident. Ever get a strange "walk carefully!!" feeling in a small fine china/vase shop? You are approched slowly by most employees there so that YOU won't break things as they are perfectly comfortable in amongst the rows of expensive wares.
David Morrissey, Canada

Generally speaking, women are better drivers than men because women are more safety-conscious than men.
Tess Aragon-Dela Cruz, Philippines

I experienced driving on the M1, where this lady suddenly changed to our lane without signalling. It a close escape, if my driver had not been not quick enough to slow down, I guess an accident would have happened. We also noticed that some woman while driving, are quite indecisive. They can't make up their mind which lane to take, which route to turn in..etc. Of course, not all women are like that... some of them are friendly drivers, some are skillful drivers. But the majority are not good drivers. I believe, I'm not a good driver either.
Annie Seah, Singapore

The term better is NOT saying very much. Better in what regard? Driving means you want to get some place and NOT take all day.
R. Wilson

I don't think it is a matter of gender - I'm a more agressive driver than my husband and definitely more dangerous on the road. But..what does it mean to be a better driver? Our friends say: "if you want to get somewhere - go with Andrey, if you want to get there fast - go with Marina!"
Marina, USA

This is the usual ignorant and divisive rubbish. All drivers think they are good and people identify with their peer groups, so this is a case of "light the blue touch paper and stand well clear". For interest my accident rate is 1/400000 which I think I can live with. I have passed car and bike tests, I recently took my US test and got 94% which is typical for the UK drivers here. How would most of you feel about retaking your driving test at 36, male or female?
Chris Hann, USA

Lack of focus on the road while engaged in other things. Hesitant upon making manouvers. Liable to break laws often as men. Talk too much and cannot park to save their lives.
David Monaghan, Eire

First of all, I can't honestly say which of the two sexes are better drivers. It seems to me that there are both good and bad drivers of both sexes. I was rather amused to read Jane Thompson's note regarding how men have bullied women into thinking they are inferior. For someone who is angry at the way men treat her and her sex, isn't she rather treating men the same way with her statement ? Hmmmm... Can we say "tit for tat"?
Brandon Hartford, USA

Yes women are better drivers than men, on the whole. The reason is basically that men are more aggressive drivers, and will often go out of their way to 'beat' other drivers (e.g. by cutting them off) and thus creating more dangerous situations. That said, here in the US, I think women drivers are becoming more aggressive than they used to be.
Alasdair Philip, USA

I consider the question sexist. Those of us who live in the 1990s believe in judging individuals people's ability rather that classifying people into gender, race, age etc.
Roy Matthews, England

Men always find easy excuses for speeding on the road, while women are much more responsible and caring drivers.
Jane Hong Jiang, China

Some women are better drivers than men and vice versa. Why do we continue with this battle of the sexes in an effort to prove 'differences' that don't exist and are irrelevant in today's society?
Barry Tregear, England

The word "better" probably means different things to men and women. Men are usually more skillful and women are usually more cautious. I, however, am both.
Clinton Murray, USA

Some PEOPLE are better drivers that other PEOPLE...Sex is irrelevant!
Robert D. Hickman, USA

Of course we are - plus if needed we will at least stop and ask for directions and then follow them.
Maureen Tayor, USA

This is SUCH a silly question, and only more fodder for the already great rift between men and women. Statistics, schmatistics. Anything can be proven with statistics. Both sexes drive badly! Both sexes drive well. Why must we be always looking for one more way to prove one sex superior to the other? It's very simple. Men and women are different. The sooner we can accept that, the sooner we can move on to working things out as if (novel concept) we were members of the same group, namely "homo sapien".
Sheryl, US

It is too general a statement. There are typically more men on the road. So we may/could conclude incorrectly. Here in Canada the worst drivers are males, under 25. As for England - I recently returned from vacation in England. I put over a 1000 miles on a car and found the driving enjoyable - loved those roundabouts. I found English drivers more courteous.
Craig Sturgeon, Canada

Men are better drivers than women because they have better spatial awareness. In my experience, slow women drivers cause more accidents than fast male drivers.
A Kent, UK

Sorry Fiona Kellington, but there are plenty of women who enjoy watching cars going round and round "in circles" be it F1 or other forms of motorsport! A love of fast cars isn't an exclusively male thing. As for who drives better - women vs men as a whole isn't very helpful - some demographic segments will have different tendencies overall. For example the young 18yr old male in his hot rod and the mid 30s woman with a car full of small children are both likely to be more dangerous than the norm.
Rebecca, UK




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