According to a driving survey we did recently, neither. 74% of respondents felt men and women were completely equal as drivers, with only 7% saying that they felt women were better at driving. But what does ‘better’ actually mean? Is good driving safe driving, or should driving be about enjoyment as well? Where do these stereotypes about male and female drivers originate, and why is it something some people still love to talk about?
Defining ‘good driving’
The whole argument on who is a better driver hinges on how you actually measure good driving.
- There’s a big argument for using competent and safe driving (e.g. lack of accidents, speeding fines and insurance claims), as the ultimate yardsticks for good driving. After all, safety on the roads is essential.
- Should enjoyment, frequency or confidence come into play when defining good driving?
How you define and measure good driving is up for debate, but safe and considerate driving tends to be universally accepted as the best metric.
A recent study found women drive better, but lack confidence
A 2015 observational study of driving conducted in Hyde Park found that women drivers scored higher than men on key driving quality metrics.
- Men were significantly more likely to drive recklessly by tailgating and cutting dangerously in traffic.
- Though women came out as the better motorists, they lacked confidence in their abilities.
- When asked, the majority of women felt they were not good drivers, and very few men thought women were better drivers.
The survey results caused lively debate, with many commentators offering anecdotal evidence about teaching people to drive, citing men as the faster learners.
Is the automotive industry talking to men more?
- Men tend to use their cars more and they are more likely than women to find work driving.
- The way that some car advertising and driving job opportunities are geared towards men, may make women less inclined to get involved in the industry.
- Even in childhood, boys are encouraged to play with toy cars more than their female counterparts. This familiarity with cars and with driving may act as a later confidence-builder.
Do genes play a part?
Some people say differences in female and male stress reactions may play a part in different driving habits. When a man becomes stressed some evidence suggests he may become more aggressive, whereas a women may become more cautious and defensive. The fact that women may be frequently driving with children in the car is often cited as a reason for their ‘cautious’ driving.
Just different styles of driving?
Fundamentally, a lot of differences between men and women drivers revolve around different attitudes towards driving, which have nothing to do with gender at all.
Whether you are less confident in your driving ability and drive carefully; or are more likely to engage in riskier driving behaviours like tailgating or speeding, doesn’t have to come down to being of either gender.
Despite this, some stereotypes do persist; though increasingly people have started to poke fun at stereotypes about women drivers, and Audi even ridiculed these assumptions in a recent social media campaign.
Do you think there’s any point in talking about men and women drivers anymore?