Discussion in 'New Science' started by ramonmercado, Nov 7, 2005.
Women have fewer nasty accidents than men for a reason - they don't do as much motorway driving per se. Women mostly drive around town (shopping trips and school taxi runs), and consequently drive at much slower speeds - so most of the accidents that women are involved with are of the 'fender bender' variety.
The effect of hormones may have an effect on how safely (or otherwise) men drive (i.e. they take risks most women wouldn't take), but I really don't think hormones have much bearing on how women drive. Rather, I think it may have more to do with responsibility. If a woman is driving her kids to school, she will drive carefully to avoid the risk of injury to the kids. Many men (though not all, obviously) seem to have fewer inhibitions in this regard.
I was told years ago that the way you drive is an extension of your personality. So if you're aggressive with people, your driving will be more dangerous.
On the other hand...
Women and gay men are 'worst drivers'
By Sarah Radford and agencies
Last Updated: 2:25am GMT 04/01/2008
Women and gay men are likely to be the worst drivers, a new study has shown.
Research has revealed that both perform poorly in tasks involving navigation and spatial awareness when compared to heterosexual men.
Psychologists at Queen Mary, University of London, who conducted the study, believe the findings mean driving in a strange environment would be more difficult for gay men and women than for straight male motorists.
Both tend to rely on local landmarks to get around, and are also slower to take in spatial information.
The computer-based tests were carried out on 140 volunteers, and demonstrated that gay men, straight women and lesbians navigated in a similar way, sharing the same weaknesses.
The results back earlier studies supporting the stereotype that women are poor navigators.
Although women are more successful in tests requiring them to remember the position of objects, men consistently do better in tasks requiring navigation and uncovering hidden objects.
The research team, led by Dr Qazi Rahman, used virtual reality simulations of two common tests of spatial learning and memory developed at Yale University.
In one, volunteers had to swim through an underwater maze to find a hidden platform, while the second involved exploring radial arms projecting from a central junction to receive 'rewards' .
Dr Rahman said: "Men are good at using distal, or geometrical cues, to decide if they’re going north or south, for instance. They have a better basic sense of direction, but they can use local land marks as well.
"Driving in a novel environment which is poor in cues is where these differences are likely to show up most.
"Women are going to take a lot longer to reach their destination, making more errors, taking wrong turns etc. They need more rich local landmarks."
Dr Rahman added that a similar performance between gay and straight men in the radial arms test showed that the divisions between sexual groups were not straightforward.
"Gay people appear to show a ‘mosaic’ of performance, parts of which are male-like and other parts of which are female-like," he said.
I bet they put a shark in there too. Just liven things up a bit.
Better, worse - driving is comprised of so many things, you can't possibly make a valid generalization about which group of people is better at driving overall.
I don't see why women would do less highway driving than men in this day and age, when everybody of both genders is working two jobs and carting the kids around. On long trips, you should rotate among all available drivers every couple of hours to prevent fatigue. Men are statistically more likely to be long-haul truckers, but I think you have to cut truckers out of the overall statistics because their jobs involve so many factors that other people don't have to deal with.
Concerning spatial ability - I find that sitting in the driver's seat of the car changes my spatial ability. This may relate to the fact that I didn't learn to drive till my mid-forties, but was raised with an abnormal amount of passenger time due to the frequency with which we moved, I don't know. As a passenger, I'm very observant and can navigate well. Since I have tended to be the only person without driving chores, I've spent a lot of time as designated navigator, and this has trained me both to read maps and to spot landmarks. Also, all the time I've spent on the bus has given me an intimate knowledge of the areas of my town with good public transportation. "Inside the Loop" I always know which direction I'm facing, even on one of those streets that confuses everybody else (we have one street downtown that goes all four directions in the space of all mile), and I know all available on-foot shortcuts, but I can't remember which way one-way streets go.
Put me in the driver's seat of a car and the fact that I have to spend all my time focusing on the traffic around me means that I become disoriented quickly. The first time I ever drove to the airport, I got a 180-degree flip in my sense of spatial relations, feeling that I was driving north when I was heading south. I often have to ignore my sense of where I am in order to follow street signs.
However, during my first driving lesson, the instructor deliberately talked me through a complex random set of turns well outside my own neighborhood, in order to present an object-lesson in how easy it was to get lost, and when he said: "Okay, now where are we?" I was floored him by responding "Fredericksburg Road, north of the Medical Center, heading into town." Apparently I was the first person ever to be able to do that. But I knew I was all right because I was with an instructor, and when he asked where we were the first thing I saw was a bus sign, so I knew what line I was on, so I knew what street I was on, so I was able to put together the landscape clues, so I was fine. When I get lost since then, I take that memory and use it. The important thing is not to panic. If you have to pull into a gas station and look at a map, then you have to. If you find yourself headed the wrong way, then you turn around. It's not the end of the world, unless you panic yourself into an accident. So what if you're late? You can't be later than dead.
So, I wonder whether the ability to remain oriented spatially is related to confidence - which is culturally (not, I think, biologically, but I could be wrong) a masculine trait? While the ability to drive a safe speed with adequate distance between you and the next car is related to humility - culturally (but not, I think, biologically) a feminine trait.
When I took driver's ed in high school, the teacher (who was really a football coach) took great care to warn the boys that they couldn't count on their reflexes to save them from accidents, because the reflexes were going to deteriorate with age and then they'd be out on the road with bad reflexes and bad driving habits. Alas, he took no such care with the girls - he just yelled at us indiscriminately.
Peni, it seems your editors really earn their pay.
As for driving safety, age is a factor as well. The younger drivers, male and female, are more inclined towards risk taking behavior. The elderly driver is more inclined to be overly cautious.
There are so many variables involved that any generalized statement about one group being better than another is most likely wrong.
That shark, I was wondering, can you sit sharks in the back seats of people's cars?
Of course you can, my MIL is often in the back seat!
Do you mean your MiL is a shark, or that you hope that the shark would have a taste for MiLs?!
Snappy and bad tempered, make up your own mind!
A bit suspicious of the initial study. Sample of 43 people, not doing any driving - and the article's about how hormones may affect driving.
Researcher: This way. Just take a deep breath, bob down and swim underwater until you find the platform.
Woman: When do I get to drive on the skidpan? You said I could drive on the skidpan.
Researcher: OK, we're releasing the shark now, off you go!
Woman: I'm feeling hormonal now.
Just to be pedantic,
"The computer-based tests were carried out on 140 volunteers, and demonstrated that gay men, straight women and lesbians navigated in a similar way, sharing the same weaknesses."
But the underwater bit does conjure up this little scene:
Professor: Jones, This research I asked you to do on Driving...
Jones: Oh, Driving! Sorry, I read it as Diving...!
Doesn't speak to any accident rates, does it, which is really the important part.
By definition, this research seemed to be looking at navigational abilities:
The hormone research at the start of this thread suggests women could be safer drivers.
But I guess, as in all things, these different abilities tend to balance out.
A driver who's worried about being lost may lose road concentration while trying to get orientated, while an over-confident navigator may neglect basic safe driving.
Your allusion to cultural rather than innate factors as the important ones seems to have been prescient, given this study a decade later ...
FULL STORY: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-45134809
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