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May 13, 2014

Fellas, the jig’s up — women are safer drivers

DUNCAN — Over the years, gentle readers have come to expect when a burning social issue is debated in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, I’m nothing if not stup ... uh, that should be ... bold enough to weigh in.

Discrimination is an issue that really trips my outrage trigger, to the point I’m about to betray my gender. It will make me a pariah among testosterone pushers from sea to shining sea, but it’s time to come clean, suck it up, take the weight of male wrath upon my somewhat narrow shoulders and admit: Men are worse drivers than women.

Yeah, I know guys, this confession means I’ll be drummed out of the Testosterone Fraternity. Spanky and Alfalfa will shred my membership card in the “He-man Woman-haters Club.” But it’s time to cease this game males have run on women for generations. See, when it comes to injury and fatality accidents, men are far and away the problem.

The myth persists (no doubt fueled by guys) that women drivers are a threat to society. There’s an impression legions of dingbat women are crashing into overpasses while gabbing on a cellphone or plowing into oncoming traffic while applying mascara, thus creating havoc and death on the nation’s transportation arteries.

From whence did this stereotype of the dingbat female driver arise?

I figure it’s one of those Victorian Age leftovers; residue from an era when men were men and women weren’t. Motorized vehicles came on the scene during that Golden Age of Male Dominance, so it was only, uh, logical guys would create the illusion females and combustion engine-propelled vehicles are a bad mix.

After all, many other male-inspired stereotypes worked for us back then, and actually carried over until about the 1970s. You know: Women had no head for business; females couldn’t be trusted with the vote; gals were too emotional to send into combat; and those of the gentle persuasion were not tough enough to be pro wrasslers.

Most of those female stigmas have been laid to rest, despite the best efforts of whining guys, who didn’t want to lose the good thing we had and be forced to actually treat women equally. Still, the characterization of women being bad drivers has persisted.

Well, a survey conducted for MetLife Insurance was released not long ago showing men are three times more likely than women to be involved in injury accidents.

A couple years ago, a study by Carnegie Mellon University researchers blew the women-are-road-hazards smoke screen men created. I won’t embarrass my gender with a bunch of statistics, but a telling number was: Males are 77 percent more likely to die in a car accident than women.

OK, guys can now rise up in umbrage and say, “Well, they can make statistics prove anything they want.” But according to Paul Fischbeck, a professor who co-authored the Carnegie Mellon study, that just won’t wash. In fact, Fischbeck noted, men’s dangerous driving profile should have been common knowledge.

“The insurance companies have charged men at higher rates for years,” Fischbeck said, adding the Carnegie Mellon eggheads weren’t particularly surprised to statistically discover men are the greater danger behind the wheel.

How did he scientifically put it? Oh, yeah. Fischbeck said men “do stupider things” while driving.

According to the numbers, year in and year out, the chief contributing factors in wrecks producing injuries or fatalities are excessive speed, drinking, reckless driving and failure to use seat belts. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports all of these behaviors are overwhelmingly more likely to involve males than females.

Hard to hide from this one, fellas. I’ve been a male for 62 years and have been driving for 46 years (not counting the joy rides I took before I had a driver’s license). Difficult as it is to admit, it’s been my observation males do drive faster, more recklessly, more often under the influence and with less patience than women.

And men, don’t bother rising up in testosterone-induced indignation and proclaim, with end-of-discussion finality, “If men get into more wrecks, it’s because women caused them!”

Guys, the numbers just don’t back us up. Dang it!

jeff.kaley@duncanbanner.com(580)255-5354, Ext. 128

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