Are Women Bad Drivers, Or Do They Just Have That Reputation?

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Are women bad drivers? We all remember Jane Jetson gets a driving lesson in the 18th episode of “The Jetsons” that originally aired on January 27, 1963, and was titled “Jane’s Driving Lesson.” As one might expect with a title like that, the episode deals with the flying cars of the year 2063. Specifically, female drivers of the year 2063. In this episode, George pulls up behind a young woman driver and becomes confused by her hand signals. “Women drivers, that’s the problem!” George shouts at the woman. This episode displays the sexism and stereotype rather arrogantly, playing it for laughs as men are constantly terrified of women behind the wheel. Ugly stereotypes about “women are bad drivers” are still present globally, revamped in form of memes and slurs.

Interestingly, we also know that women are safer drivers as they follow more rules and laws while on the wheel. Also as per statistics collected in India by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, fewer women than men are responsible for road accidents and the fatalities caused by them. Women tend to always wear helmets and seatbelts while driving. However, women have a bad reputation when it comes to driving, with headlines like “Bad Driving Linked to Hormones” and more being commonplace.

But researchers with the Social Issues Resource Center beg to differ. Its 2002 report analysed a stack of studies on male and female driving differences and came to a bold conclusion, “In all studies and analyses, without exception, men have been shown to have a higher rate of crashes than women.” But do we ever factor in the number of accidents caused, when we say women are bad drivers? Never, because men have the birthright for getting away with being sexist and poor driving skills.

Let’s speak about how a woman is conditioned and guided to buy a car. When I wanted to buy my first car, I spoke to lots of men including family members and friends who I assumed would know better about the technical use of the vehicle. I was right about them as they directed me with all practical ways to look at a car before I buy it. Finally, I was overwhelmed with so much information that a small child in distress who always needs her/ his Mother, I called mine. She advised me with conviction that, why do I have to speak with so many people to buy ‘”my” car. I should decide on what I like and decide. This empowered me to decide what I wanted. It was a learning for me that because of the conditioning we women assume we do not know a lot but it’s just a matter of taking things into our control.

Autocar did a survey and a story on Indian women drivers and their data shows the purchase triggers for women to buy a car. The result was that we need the car for work and family travel, it’s hardly a luxury but a matter of convenience. Women are responsible for the lion’s share of grocery shopping and meal preparation thus shopping includes food shopping as a priority.

“Owning and driving my car has given me a sense of independence and confidence. I have enjoyed driving from a very young age says Yashodhara Ghorpade who owns and drives her car and feels so empowered about it said. She also added – “When I drive on open roads with my favorite music on, I feel like nothing and no one can stop me.”

Women are trying to run the world shoulder to shoulder with men so can we call them co-drivers for the universe to run in balance. In the north of India car is still a luxurious gift to be provided by the bride’s family in dowry which the husband will drive. But no one ever asked

While the common norm is women are bad drivers but no one ever said to a man that he is a bad cook.

Jaayaa A Kumarr is a lawyer by qualification and a marketer by profession. Views expressed are the author’s own.