Cars: breaking the gender bias

When we think of a driver, it’s likely that the first image that comes to our mind is a man behind a steering wheel. However, nowadays it is almost as common to see a woman behind the wheel as it is men, so this preconception should soon be gone. 

Historically, men drove and women didn’t. It wasn’t until 1897 that a woman drove and owned a car in the UK, whereas men had been driving for decades. When Minnie Palmer began to drive a car in Britain, she made it possible for other women to follow her example. The actress drove a Rougemont automobile which was manufactured in France.

Why did it become more common for women to drive?

After women started joining the workforce and left behind (at least to some extent) the stay-at-home mum prerequisite, many of them started to need certain independence in order to get to the workplace. This resulted in many of them finally getting driving licenses and also a vehicle. 

In 1975, the difference between male and female drivers was staggering. In England there was a divide of 40% between the genders. Over the years the gap began to get smaller and by 2005, the percentage had fallen to a bit less than 20%. In 2019, the difference was around 9%, which shows that every day, more and more women are joining the rads as active members rather than mere passengers. 

Do men have more accidents than women?

According to some studies, there is a difference in the number of accidents that men and women have. Research suggests that men have more accidents. These accidents are more deadly more often and men also commit more driving offences. This however could be explained by the fact that men do drive more than women. On average they drive longer distances and spend more hours on the road. They also might have a different attitude while driving and commit more driving offences. Men are much more likely to speed and records by the Home Office show that the overwhelming majority of speed offences are committed by men – 82%. Men are also more likely to drive aggressively and therefore put themselves and others at risk of accidents. 

Women tend to be more careful when driving which can lead to their vehicles being safer to drive. Driving safely could preserve the condition of the car tyres, which could be less worn out, making it safer to brake. Other parts of the car could also function better. When Bertha Benz decided to go on the first long-distance trip in a vehicle which wasn’t pulled by horses, she tested her husband Karl’s invention to see if it could last on a trip from Mannheim to Pforzheim in Germany – a distance of approximately 120 miles (194 km) – where she wanted to visit her mother. 

“Along the way, reportedly, she used a hatpin to clean out a clogged fuel line and a garter to insulate a wire, making the dawn-to-dusk trip in a fraction of the time of a horse-drawn ride. The roadways she followed have been named the Bertha Benz Memorial Route, part of the European Route of Industrial Heritage”, the Detroit News tells the story

Many stereotypes about women’s driving skills still exist today, mostly things like involving car repairs and parking. But a difference in driving is hardly noticeable today, making this a great time for women to drive and own a car. 


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