Men have long said that women are the worse drivers. Women have vigorously defended their abilities behind the wheel. But new research does back the claim that women are worse drivers than men – but men shouldn’t gloat just yet.
Motor insurance company, Diamond, recently did some research into accident statistics and found that nearly half a million accidents a year were caused by women applying their make up while behind the wheel. Other causes were more to do with busy lives – 10% of accidents involving woman drivers occurred while on the school run compared to just over 1% for men for instance.
Women driver stress
Solicitors admit they have seen a 50% rise in the last year in cases where women have approached them because they are facing charges of driving without due care and attention. A classic example of this was a woman in her 40’s who had driven into the back of another car on a busy road and was facing a charge. She was distraught having never been in trouble before, but she was having marital problems and wasn’t concentrating properly at the wheel.
Driver stress caused by busy lifestyles appears to be a leading cause of accidents among middle-aged women. If you combine a driving experience with children in the car that are causing disruption with a stressed mum, this can lead to higher stress and more minor accidents.
Demands of life
A study from the University of Michigan also concluded that women were more likely to be involved in an accident. They looked at 6.5 million car crashes and found a higher than anticipated number of cases, involving two women drivers in a collision. They also found that women have more problems with crossroads, T-junctions and slip roads.
The RAC admit not to have studied the situation themselves, but a spokesperson said that they did find the figures unsurprising. Women are under higher pressure, often juggling tasks and responsibilities. This scenario is backed up by the fact that it is middle-aged women who are responsible for the highest number of cases.
Solicitors representing these women tell a similar story – work, running the home, looking after the children and mental health can all build up and affect concentration. Most of these women are running into trouble for the first time.
Problem-solving not working
Anxiety specialist, Dr Sandi Mann from the Mind Training Clinic in Manchester, pointed out that many women are juggling different aspects of their lives and the mind wanders to problem-solving. It is okay when you are out walking but can be potentially lethal when you are driving a car.
Alcohol is another factor that can lead to problems. Research from Insurance, Revolution, discovered that driving convictions handed to women see more than one third being for drink driving offences committed by the 45 to 60 age group.
Men are likely to be younger, with one-third of these convictions awarded to the 25 to 34 age group. For men of the middle age group, the most common offence is speeding. They are more experienced motorists and think they can drive at higher speed, thus breaking the law.
For women, 64% of convictions are for more serious motoring offences including causing death by dangerous driving and driving under the influence. Experts say this is because some women use drink to help them cope – female professionals have a high rate of alcohol problems but are often well hidden behind a controlled exterior.
Dealing with the problem
Dealing with all aspects of life is a big problem for women drivers. And, getting the children to behave in the car can be a significant factor too as many women say driving and dealing with their children leads to accidents. According to the Supernanny website, the key for parents is to create a routine that settles the children and rewards their good behaviour. It makes for quiet and relaxed car journeys.
While men may feel somewhat vindicated in the figures, showing that women are involved in more accidents than they are, maybe the bigger question is what we can do to help these women? Whether it is helping to manage the stresses of life or merely taking the school run a little more often, maybe men can help women lower their accident rates, and everyone stays safe.
Are women drivers worse than male drivers? Is this there are more distractions when women drive then men do? Is it really a fair comparison of driving ability? Let us know in the comments below.