A new survey pegs the aggressive New Yorker as the angriest behind the wheelEnlarge Photo
mercedes amg driving academy 2009 008Enlarge Photo
If we had a dollar for every comedian that's cracked a joke about women and driving, we'd have enough cash in the bank to buy -- and set fire to -- every comedy club in America. Why would we do such a thing? Because studies show that men are actually far more dangerous behind the wheel. (Also: because none of us really like comedy clubs.)
When looking at the number of accidents-per-mile-traveled -- which takes into account the fact that men drive more often than women -- it does appear that female drivers are slightly more likely to wind up in auto accidents than their male counterparts. However, the accidents in which women tend to find themselves are fender-benders and other non-fatal encounters. In contrast, when we look at the number of roadway deaths, the data landscape changes dramatically: men are between 55% and 80% more likely than women to be involved in fatal crashes.
And so we ask: what's the cause for those chilling statistics?
Studies indicate that it's mostly because men are more prone to ignore traffic laws. Not only do they run red lights and execute Hollywood Stops at intersections more often than women, but they're also more prone to race other drivers, tailgate, and, most importantly, drink and drive. According to researcher Dana Yagil, "women tend to view traffic laws as just and necessary, and will obey them even when safety is not a factor. Men tend to be more skeptical, and are thus more likely to view road rules as 'optional.'" Sounds like we might've given Dana a ride at some point.
Transportation scholar (and former TV writer for shows like JAG and Xena: Warrior Princess) Eric A. Morris sees the data around male and female drivers pointing to fundamental differences between male and female genetics. Although many activists argue that men and women are essentially identical, there are some biochemical distinctions that put men at greater risk for fatal accidents -- namely, tendencies for aggression, risk-taking, and thrill-seeking, which result in faster and more reckless driving. In fact, one Canadian study found that "men drove 50 percent greater distances than women but spent only 30 percent more time doing so." Zoom-zoom, indeed.
So what does all this mean?
For men, it shows the importance of exhibiting some self control. We know that logic and reason don't always lead to changes in behavior -- if they did, we'd have a lot less drinking and driving, a reduction in communicable diseases, and far fewer politicians. However, if men understand that they have these weaknesses, they might slowly learn to make better decisions behind the wheel.
And for women, it shows the importance of dodging male drivers as though their lives depended on it. Because it might.