Sally Field and Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit
A couple of weeks ago, we stumbled across a British report that said 20% of men are terrified to ride in a car when a woman is behind the wheel. Today, the tit-for-tat continues with a new study -- also from the U.K. -- showing that those men are crazy: women are far more competent drivers than their XY-chromosomed counterparts. Well, at least during the summer months.
The new report comes from Sheila's Wheels, a British auto insurance agency that bears the tagline "Insurance designed with women in mind!" (exclamation mark included). According to the company-sponsored survey, 45% of men say that the summer heat affects their driving habits, with 21% prone to road rage and/or aggressive driving. Roughly 25% of the men surveyed said that they'd had a summertime crash or near-miss, while just 17% of women said the same.
But it's not the heat alone that turns normal guys into wild-eyed road warriors: it's also due to a spike in libido. Cole Porter may have thought summer was too darn hot for hanky-panky, but according to the Sheila's Wheels survey, 29% of male drivers admit to being distracted by the skimpier outfits women wear in warmer months. And the number of women who said they're distracted by men's summer attire? A dismal 3%. (Yet another reason to ditch the cargo shorts.)
According to behavioral psychologist Donna Dawson, the gents' hormones are to blame: "Testosterone also plays a part as it makes men more prone to aggression, especially when frustrated by a confined space such as a car -- and men are quicker than women to expose such irritability in hot weather." All told, Sheila's Wheels says this helps explain why men make 16.4% more insurance claims during the summer months.
Sadly, we're not given unfettered access to the survey data -- which would be nice, because the bits that Sheila's Wheels has shared raise a lot of intriguing questions. For example: how many women say they're affected by the heat? How many drive more aggressively? And most importantly, how do these figures change when there's a nip in the air?
At first glance, this new survey might seem slightly more scientific than the previous one, which was carried out by OnePoll.com -- sort of a social network for people who like taking polls. But Sheila's Wheels used a firm called Opinium Research, which is...well, another place for folks who enjoy being polled. (Must be a British thing.) Neither sounds like it cuts the mustard in scientific terms.
Vive la difference. Let's call it a tie.