By Marty Russell
Last week we white males learned that we’re no longer the prominent voice in national politics. Then this week we guys – and not just white ones – learned we no longer own the road.
In case you haven’t heard, a recent study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute showed that, between 1995 and 2010, the number of males between the ages of 25 and 29 with driver’s licenses dropped by 10.6 percent. The decline in women in that age group with driver’s licenses was only 4.7 percent. The study concluded that there are now more women on the road than men.
Now jokes about women drivers are as old as the car itself and may go back even farther, although I don’t think many men would have objected to Lady Godiva getting an equestrian-driving license.
In fact there’s an old, and not very politically correct, joke that goes something like this:
“Why was Helen Keller such a bad driver?”
“Because she was blind?”
“Because she was deaf?”
“Because she was a woman.”
An earlier study by the same University of Michigan group appears to back up the common perception that women are worse drivers than men. It showed that between 1988 and 2007, when we men still ruled the roads, 20.5 percent of all accidents were females crashing into females and 31.9 percent were males crashing into males. Males and females crashing into each other made up the difference, 47.6 percent.
No word on whether those female-on-female crashes involved a sale at the local department store.
Now, I have to say my wife is a pretty good driver. I have to say it because I expect I’ll find myself in the car with her driving someday soon. But I have known my share of bad female drivers.
Probably the worst experience I had with a female driver was when I was flying the space shuttle. It was a news media event at Space Camp, and I had been chosen commander of a simulated shuttle mission. My pilot was the female anchor of a local TV news broadcast and had to do a “live” shot as soon as we “landed.”
As we were coming in for our landing, I looked at the controls and then looked out the cockpit window, and noticed we were headed nose-first for the tarmac.
“Get your nose up!” I whispered to the pilot in the seat next to me, not wanting to embarrass her in front of the rest of the crew.
“Get your nose up!” I said a little louder when I got no response. Then I turned to face her and would have fallen out of my seat had I not been strapped in. There she sat, nose stuck almost perpendicular into the air with a make-up compact in one hand and an applicator in the other.
Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.