When you see a reckless driver or when pass by an accident on the road, have you ever heard someone say “it must be a woman”? In the battle of the sexes, women are usually stereotyped as bad drivers. But is there any truth to this? Are women really that bad behind the wheel? Check out the infographic below to find out.
Recent studies on parking trends may provide credence to the stereotype that women are generally bad at parking. For instance, a study conducted by Ruhr University-Bochum in Germany asked its subjects to park an Audi A6 at a multilevel car park. The results show that men are better at parking in terms of speed and spatial estimation. On average, it takes a woman 21 seconds to park while men only need 16 seconds. Despite the 5-second difference, men were found to be better at estimating distance with other parked vehicles. Recent statistics released by Britain’s Department of Transport in 2012 also seem to support this as the agency reveals that more women fail driving tests than men—40,863 vs. 18,798—mainly due to lack of control while reverse parking.
Now, why are women outperformed by men when it comes to parking? Studies say that parking is one kind of mental rotation, and this task requires a person to have a good awareness of the spatial relationships between objects. They also reveal that testosterone may be the culprit as this hormone is responsible for developing a person’s spatial skills. And since women are generally deprived of this hormone while inside the womb, a lot of them may have lesser sense of space.
On The Road
Looking at road statistics is a whole different story, though. In this category, women seem to have an edge over men because they generally are more careful, taking lesser risks while driving. And since men also drive more miles than women, it may not come as a surprise that they also encounter more problems on the road. The U.K.’s Department for Transport reveals that on average, women pass their driving tests after 52 hours of teaching while men pass theirs after 36 hours. And though it takes a longer time for women to learn, the study also indicates that they are less likely to develop bad motoring habits compared to men.
In terms of accidents, a study was conducted in a span of five years, and it revealed that men are responsible for over 80% of all fatal and serious car accidents in America. In fact, in 2007, men were responsible for 6.1 million vehicle crashes while women were accountable for only 4.4 million crashes. And when it comes to traffic violations, statistics show that men also make up the bulk of law breakers. For instance, more men are caught due to reckless driving, not following seatbelt laws, and more men are also apprehended for DUI—whether it involves drugs or alcohol.
Women and Driving
In some aspects, women are clearly outperformed by men, and this may be due to the lack of the necessary hormone—testosterone—which plays a big role in developing a person’s spatiality. However, aside from this, crisis of confidence and awareness of stereotypes has also been identified to affect a person’s driving performance. These factors were also considered in studies done by psychologists Dr. Zachary Estes from the University of Warwick and Dr. Sydney Felker from the University of Georgia Health Center. They found out that a boost in morale and a little encouragement helped women improve their spatial skills. On the other hand, testosterone may not be the only reason why men are more aggressive on the road. Apart from that, social conditioning may also be one of the forces behind men’s generally strong risk-taking attitude. Since they are expected to be more aggressive, they are put at greater risk while they drive.
In the end, regardless of your sex, the most important thing to remember when you’re on the road is to keep safe and drive with confidence to avoid accidents.
In some places in China and Germany, there are parking slots built especially for women. In both countries, the all-female parking spaces were made wider than usual. In the city of Shijiazhuan in China, the women-only parking lot located inside a mall is painted pink and purple to cater to ‘female tastes’. While in the city of Triberg in Germany, one of their public parking lots has 12 extra wide spots reserved especially for women.