A friend asked me to share my thoughts on this often heated debate. This is a topic that raises the voice levels amongst those trying to protect the “reputation” of their specific genders – I however promise to approach this in a calm, factual manner and through a discussion of a few scenarios. I will also be asking a few important questions in response to some of the arguments often raised!
Women will always raise as a very good argument the existence of an insurance company such as 1st for Women Insurance Brokers. This insurer says on its website the following: “..1st for Woman Insurance Brokers has always maintained that women are safer and more responsible drivers than men. In other words women are a better insurance risk and can therefore benefit from lower insurance premiums.”
I must admit that this is a very strong argument. I must also compliment this insurer for carefully selecting the words “safer and more responsible” and not the word “better”! Safety would always be an important consideration in identifying our best drivers…We would also have to recognize that there are many factors that could contribute to the statistics on vehicle accidents favouring our female drivers. But for any woman to refer to her gender as “better drivers” could however be far from the truth!!
To play devil’s advocate we would have to compare driving to the scenario of swimming accidents at sea. It is quite possible that there might be more male drownings at sea as well…But does this say that women are better swimmers? If you tend to splash around in the shallow water – does that make you a safe swimmer or a good swimmer?
I believe that the testosterone driven male species might pose a greater accident risk as a result of the following contributing factors;
- Excessive speeding
- More instances of drunk driving and late night driving
- Greater vulnerability to road rage etc
I am also convinced that the lower risk posed by female drivers could be as a result of:
- Driving shorter distances
- Driving at lower speeds
- Greater responsibility in transporting children in urban areas
- Less driving late at night and whilst intoxicated
- The ability of many non-permanently employed women / stay-at-home moms [not many nowadays] to structure their driving away from rush hour and dangerous areas.
Men would however be less likely to cause a fender –bender accident whilst putting up make-up or attending to hair in the mirror. They would also not bother to look their passengers straight in the eye when communicating whilst driving! [Ok- I will stop here as I promised not to be nasty…and before I lose my last female friends.. ]
If we say that driving experience is an important criteria for a safe driver – [a reason why younger drivers pose a greater risk] – would it not be reasonable as well to say that the average male at a specific age would have driven a greater distance and confronted more hazards on the road than his female colleague of the same age? Would it be fair to say that this additional driving experience might make him a better driver?
Only if the driving conditions and driving requirements [stress/ workload] upon women and men were exactly the same would we be able to establish an answer resembling something such as a “better driver”.
So how could we possible create a test to determine the “BETTER” driver? I would like see an insurer sponsor the following driver test:
Randomly choose 10 drivers from each gender – 2 each in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s without professional driving experience and have them drive the exact same route in an urban area under “rally” conditions. They would then have to drive at the same speeds at pre-determined sections to reach road markers within specific times and with the same directions given. We would make this more interesting with “real life” scenarios by adding specific threats on the road eg…pedestrians, vehicles moving into their way from the side and create emergency situations. This would allow us to better establish on average which gender the better driver might be…
How many male and how many female drivers do we have in South Africa? Our friends from eNaTIS provided interesting stats:
For now this question on the “BETTER” driver would remain unanswered…We could all be thankful for our safe female drivers …the more safe female drivers sharing the road with us the BETER and the SAFER!!!