Women in particular are often the butt of driving jokes but you may have to think twice before insulting ‘women drivers’ in the future, particularly if an older woman is involved.
According to a new study undertaken by Norway’s Institute of Transport Economics, the female sex may actually be the better drivers when it come to at least one key skill, and older women the best of all.
The study (titled “Maybe I Will Just Send a Quick Text…”— An Examination of Drivers’ Distractions, Causes, and Potential Interventions) looked at two sample groups – more than 1,000 high school students (though only 208 possessed a driver’s license) and 414 people selected from the general population – and the rates at which their focus on the road could be distracted.
They found that young, male drivers were the most at risk of being distracted by mobile phones, car radios, or similar while driving, while older, female drivers were least at risk of doing so. People who drove regularly, and those with “more neurotic and less conscientious” personalities were also at greater risk of distraction.
Unsurprisingly, people who reported rating safe driving as important were less likely to be distracted.
“An estimate suggests that upward of 50 million people are hurt each year in road crashes, and more than one million people die,” researchers Ole J. Johansson and Aslak Fyhri wrote of the study. “While there are many campaigns to improve safety in traffic, little research has looked at distractions … no one has tested an intervention to decrease distracted behavior [sic] in traffic.”
A recent US Consumer Reports survey found that 52 per cent of people indulged in distracting activities while driving, even though they knew it was wrong; 41 per cent used their hands to send a text, 37 per cent fiddled with the music on their smartphones and a scary 8 per cent watched videos on their phone while driving, Forbes reported.
Their admissions were nothing, however, compared to a man in Canada caught this month with an entire entertainment system fixed by string to his steering wheel. He was caught after a traffic officer found him wearing headphones while watching a tabled and a mobile phone attached to the steering wheel.
More serious, however, was the case of the two boys killed this month after a driver ran into their classroom in Sydney. Police said they believed the female driver, who was the mother of students at the same school, was distracted by something in her car and may have hit the accelerator by accident.