May 22, 2020

A British Study Proves Women Are Better Drivers Than Men

Men get together and release a statement: “Oh, yeah?!”

By Ed Goldman

I’m very glad I’m not a retro comedian: the New York Times just reported that a British study shows women are better drivers than men. The news would have killed at least 10 or 15 jokes in my standup.

What next?

  • That women are NOT always late getting ready for a date?
  • That when women have lunch with other members of their sex the eating takes 90 minutes but figuring out what everyone owes on the check DOESN’T take another 35?
  • That they CAN parallel park?
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This news ruins one of my favorite black-and-white Popeye cartoons from the golden years of The Fleischer Studio. Popeye is teaching his girlfriend, Olive Oyl, to drive. She turns down a city street, ignoring the one-way sign, and we see Popeye react in horror to something. He tells her she’s going the wrong way. “No, I’m not,” she says, pointing in front of her in a self-satisfied way,  “THEY are.” And now we see from their viewpoint that trucks, a bus, taxis, passenger cars and a train are barreling toward them (and us). 

Well, goodbye to all that. 

“…(C)ompared with women,” the Times reported, “male drivers of cars and vans had twice the rate of fatal accidents per mile driven. Male truck drivers had about four times the rate of female truckers and men driving motorcycles almost 12 times the rate of female motorcyclists.” 

One grace note: “For bus drivers and bicycle riders, there was little difference between the sexes.” In saying that, I’m sure the writer didn’t mean to imply that as a general rule there’s little difference between the sexes. Sometimes, as we’ve just learned, a stand-alone sentence has a tendency to mislead.

Rachel Aldred is the principal author of the study, identified by the Times as “a reader at the University of Westminster in London.” That’s her title: “a reader.” Not even “the reader.” I don’t know anyone who’d have assumed a researcher wasn’t a reader—but then, I’m not British. This could be an example of one of their little jokes that never translate well, just as they insist on mangling the pronunciation of everything French, as though they’re still mad about how the Anglo-French war (1778-1783) turned out, with France becoming our allies in the American Revolution.

I reference the Brit’s tendency to hold grudges for 242 years because what wasn’t mentioned in reporting the outcomes was if the drivers—whether of trucks, buses, motorcycles or go-carts—had to drive on the left side of the road, as the law requires in Great Britain. 

If so, I think some amplification should have been included in the executive study accompanying the report, if there even was one. If not, allow me:

“Note to readers of Injury Prevention, ‘the magazine about preventing injuries®’: 

“This study of 14,425 road fatalities from 2005 to 2015, each involving more than one vehicle, should have made clear that the male drivers who came off as so lame were British. As such they grew up thinking they were supposed to drive on the left side of the road, using a steering wheel situated on the right of the dashboard.

“If you think that’s barmy—oh sorry, you Americans prefer ‘crazy’—we call our trucks ‘lorries,’ the front of our cars ‘bonnets,’ our buses ‘coaches’ and Boris Johnson our ‘prime minister.’ 

“The point is that nothing makes much sense here. If one of your American lawyers or elected officials were to show up at an official proceeding wearing a lavishly curly, powdered and obvious white wig, he’d be tossed out on his ‘bum’ (unless he could prove he’s the reincarnation of your absolutely hilarious comedian Rip Taylor, who made our own Benny Hill’s wit seem like that of  Oscar Wilde).

“So please don’t take the finding of this exhaustive, decade-long study too seriously. Male American drivers remain the best of the bunch. By the way, I’m dictating this as Doug, my Uber driver in Sacramento, California, drives us across my front lawn because, as he explains it, ‘the sidewalk seems too crowded to remain on.’”
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Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).