It’s time to set the record straight! Are women really bad drivers? I’m sure most of you have stumbled upon this issue or statement before even if you’re driving or not. If you could get a cookie for every time you heard a remark about women being “horrible” or “lousy” driver, I bet you’ll be diabetic by now.
Even in our culture, these stereotypes are a pretty common thing. Before checking who was carelessly driving and after a few curses later, most of us would already have pre-notion that it’s a woman driving the car. I can admit that I sometimes fall into this category because of the influences and experiences from friends and myself. Some of us won’t even think twice about the fact that women are bad drivers. Let’s not forget the number of times my friends would debate about was-it-a-male-or-female- driver arguments.However, times have changed. Now, women are probably as capable of handling a car with the male species.
Take, for example, Sabine Schmitz, a woman, who until today holds the record for fastest lap around Nurburgring in a delivery van of all things. You also have Malaysia’s top girl drifter, Leona Chin who define all odds when she showed everyone that what was recognized as a man’s sport is now reigned by a woman. Besides that, Saudi Arabia announced last year September that women are now allowed to drive, ending a longstanding policy that has become a global symbol of the oppression of women in the ultraconservative kingdom. This must come as a celebration to all women not just in Saudi Arabia but to all that hope is here! Some said that it was inappropriate in Saudi culture for women to drive, or that male drivers would not know how to handle having women in cars next to them. Others argued that allowing women to drive would lead to promiscuity and the collapse of the Saudi family. Long gone are the days where male are the superior gender when it comes to manually handling a car. Hey, even women now can change their own tires!
Moreover, there is always a slight “victory” moment when someone guesses that the driver is a female but when it comes to the male gender, there is often no need to accentuate so much as bring up gender related.
So this begs the question, why do we have an assumption about these in the first place? How did we start accepting the stereotype as a norm?
The root of this stereotype was born from the fact that women are generally thought to be inferior to men when it comes to operating a motor vehicle. People just ignore the fact that women from the beginning itself are the main backbone of the family, responsible ones to make sure their family gets to the destination where they are headed and remain in good health. Don’t get me wrong, men are also amazing when it comes to taking care of their family whether if it’s through finance or just simply caring for their sick child. The highlight of this comes down right to it and how women are being treated differently when it comes to their driving.
Of course, we’ve come a long way since the early years of the women’s rights movement and have become much more independent. From operating heavy machinery at factories or construction sites to taking on highly technical jobs such as engineers and computer experts, to even the thousands of female Uber drivers out there. Certainly, it’s #Time’sUp for people to think otherwise.
One participant felt that while most people realize that stereotypes are untrue, many still make assumptions based on gender. There are many stereotypes we may all be guilty of.
“I feel it is rather unfair to speculate that women, in general, are bad drivers. There has to be some kind of individuation in passing judgements. We, humans, tend to compartmentalise and attach stereotypes to genders. Like other gender-based stereotypes such as “men should not cry” and “women are better home-makers”, classifying all women as bad behind the wheel is like saying “all men love sport”, when in fact half the male friends I know would rather watch a movie than to tune it to the FIFA World Cup”.
According to a research by the National Highway Safety Administration, men cause 6.1 million accidents per year and women cause 4.4 million per year. Some subject experts hypothesize that men- particular men under 25- get in more accidents because they’re more prone to aggressive behaviour and risk-taking.
In Malaysia, male drivers were 2.4 times more than women drivers to be involved in accidents, with 244,336 cases involved with males compared with 103,153 cases with females according to MIROS, a statistics gathered in 2009. In many countries, including the UK and Australia (almost double), the number of accidents involving men is higher than those involving women.
What we can take from this is that regardless of gender, road risks are the same and we must take precaution and always exercise safe driving measures. There are also additional factors to consider before we over-generalize.
Dinesh Nadarajah seems to agree too.
“I have to admit that my sister is a better driver than I am. When it comes to driving, it’s the interest in using a car that leads us to become better drivers.
However, safety on the road and obeying the road laws are what makes you an excellent driver. For example, just a simple red light means stop, and green light is your cue to drive. Tabitha Long has been driving for almost 6 years now and has not been involved in any accidents nor a summon.
Driving is all about being attentive when they’re on the road. They can be the thousands of things running on your mind like what to eat, where to go for shopping and the fatal accidents ever cause, texting and driving. So, for me, I personally think that it’s not a woman’s issue but more of the individual’s problem as a driver.
Christian Bernard speaks about how men and women are equally the same. It just boils down to the fact that if the individual is not focused or extra alert in their driving, then accidents potentially could happen.
Many cities around the world are working to reduce the traffic fatality rate. However, World Health Organisation (WHO) data revealed that the estimated fatality rate in Malaysia is among the highest in the world in 2013. Studies have shown that men and women have different traits, which in turn may influence their driving behaviour. A woman will feel safer in her own car and in control and men tend to be more single-minded, similar to having a “tunnel vision”, which is why men excel at driving on highways and women better suited for city roads. But of course, this is just a theory and not necessarily true in most parts.
Jamie McGlashan, a lecturer, says that women are statistically safer as men are more likely to take risks and drive faster. However, he says men have spacial awareness and are innately more comfortable with machines. This doesn’t mean that women aren’t good but we are all wired differently.
Just a few weeks back, near my home, I saw a lady was trying to reverse her car while another car with a male driver in was waiting impatiently at the back of her car. He was unhappy with the less than a minute wait he had to endure and proceeded to shout at the lady by saying “just got your license is it? Better ask your boyfriend to drive”. That in itself opened my eyes to the bias from some people towards women drivers.
However, let’s consider the fact that most country roads are conditioned differently. Take for most Asian countries like India, Vietnam or even Thailand where road laws are certainly not applied! I remember a time where I was in the city of Hanoi, Vietnam and boy, did I got a huge amount of culture shock there. The honks they give to indicate they’re turning to the left and plus they not following any traffic light law and is probably what’s terrifying. Crossing the road is probably the scariest experience I ever have felt in my entire life. Locals normally just cross the road with ease. They believe the vehicle would manoeuvre from you and basically making the pedestrians feel like their invincible. Or so, I think.
According to VN Express, traffic accidents remain the biggest single cause of fatalities in Vietnam with road traffic deaths were 30 times higher than the number of people killed by pandemic diseases. The World Health Organisation, on average, road traffic accidents kill approximately 14,000 people in Vietnam every year.
Is it different when it comes to a third world country cames because of the culture they’ve been brought up in? Women especially in Asia, are so accustomed to driving their children from point A to point B with their motorcycle and plus four to five kids at the back. That looks like they should be superwoman of the year!
In my opinion, I believe the reason why most of us succumb to the idea and stereotype that women are bad drivers goes back from the past where women were not expected to drive that often. A good driver doesn’t depend on gender, it depends on training and skill behind the wheel. I’ve known few women who are better drivers and can drive a stick too.We all just need to cut the stereotype down and learn to appreciate the use of a car and mode of transportation now. I think we all need to take an honest look at ourselves before we make these gender assumptions.
In conjunction with International Women’s Day, remember ladies, to empower one another and man, celebrate the women in your life!