When I was in college, a friend once told me that a man is more likely to get into an accident while driving 90 miles per hour drunk, whereas a woman is more likely to shear off the side of the garage wall while trying to back in. At the time, I, thanks to my expensive education, had the wisdom to realize that such talk was just sexist nonsense.
But life has a tendency to force us to unlearn much of what we were taught in school.
The key gender difference in driving is probably that men are simply more comfortable behind the wheel. This is both good and bad.
Women tend to grasp the wheel with both hands and stare grimly ahead. Men often use just two fingers, and their attention is easily distracted from the mundane chore of steering. Men will open up a soda can, phone someone, change the CD, search for their favorite color in a bag of M&M's, read a map, or even do a crossword puzzle while driving. If conversing, a male driver may look at his passenger for several seconds before glancing back at the road.
I've actually been in cars where the woman driver has said, turn that music off, I have to concentrate on my driving. A male driver will fiddle with the radio himself until he finds a song to his liking. When that song is over, he will then focus most of his attention on the dial again till he finds another song he likes.
Men also get distracted by things outside the car. How many times have you been in a car where the male driver has to turn completely around to check out a woman on the sidewalk?
If you suggest alleviating the boredom of a long trip by suggesting a contest to see who can spot more deer, a woman driver will likely reply, "No fair, I'm driving." A man will say, "Sure."
Women find driving exhausting. Men find it relaxing.
Women see cars as a necessary evil. Men see cars as an extension of their personalities. You never see a middle-aged woman taking her 1967 Pontiac GTO out for a weekend spin. Men fall in love with the cars of their youth; women don't get fixated that way.
Both sexes prefer cars which emphasize their gender. Men never fall in love with Mazda Miatas, Volkswagen Bugs, or Austin Mini Coopers. And you never see a woman tooling around in a Hummer or Ford 150 pickup.
Women tend to pay more attention to niceties like speed limits and stop signs. At stop signs, they often come to a complete driver's license test-style halt. (This has occasioned many mutterings of "women drivers" by the men behind them.) Men tend to specialize in the "rolling stop," which might be more accurately characterized as "slowing down only slightly."
On the other hand, women tend to pull out into a street with scant concern for the flow of traffic. And when waiting to pull onto a thoroughfare, they tend to do so with the front half of their car already sticking out into the right hand lane. As drivers, women are far more likely to rely on others' good will.
When women approach a green light, they will slow down and watch for it to turn yellow, in order to be able to stop. If men see yellow, they speed up so that they only have to run the red light by a second or two.
When women make a right turn, they often swerve wide to the left before doing so. Women are more likely to step on the gas right before coming to a red light or stop. And women get flustered by having to drive near a truck.
But the most egregious sins are committed by male drivers.
Men speed. Men tailgate. And men are far more likely to drive drunk, each of them secure in the knowledge that he is the only one who can still drive safely after eight beers.
Road rage is the exclusive province of men. I have yet to hear of a woman shooting someone over a traffic incident.
When you see those caravans of cars racing each other down a highway, it's always young men.
All that is wrong with men drivers can be summed up by the absurdity of the following story. You're watching a high speed car chase on a cop show. A bank robber smashes into the police car, then speeds off, going 80 miles an hour the wrong way down a highway. Several cop cars tail the car, sirens wailing and lights flashing. They tell the robber to stop over loudspeakers, but the getaway car continues to speed away. The criminal then careens down an embankment, and speeds off at 60 mph down a residential street. A police sharpshooter eventually manages to shoot out the tires of the getaway car. But the robber continues to drive for another mile just on the rims. Finally one of the police cars is able to bump the car in such a way that it spins out. It is immediately surrounded and blocked off by three squad cars. Several policemen approach the car with their guns pointed at the driver. The driver's door slowly opens, and the criminal emerges, hands up. The police are all yelling, "Get down on the pavement and put your hand behind your head!!"
She does so.
What was wrong with that picture?
(By the way, if you were surprised by that ending, you're every bit as "sexist" as I am. Congratulations on having traded in your school brainwashing for a real education.)