Are Chinese female drivers more likely to cause traffic accidents than men?

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/11/14 11:38:39

Femme fatales

Photo: VCG

A fatal bus accident in Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality on October 28 put a guiltless female driver at the center for public criticism, as many news agencies suggested she was driving against traffic flow and crashed into the oncoming bus, causing the bus to plunge into the river, killing a dozen passengers. But an official investigation eventually revealed that the bus drifted out of its lane and off the bridge due to a heated altercation between a female passenger and the bus driver.

The Chongqing bus accident shows that many Chinese people have poor preconceptions of female drivers, with some saying that they are more likely to make silly or dangerous mistakes, such as driving against traffic flow, that their reaction speed is slower than males, and that they are more likely to break traffic laws.

On the contrary, in 2016, the accident rate of male Chinese drivers was higher than females, Shanghai Observer reported in October. Specifically, the accident rate of male drivers is six times higher than female drivers in Hangzhou of East China's Zhejiang Province, and 2.4 times higher in Nanjing of East China's Jiangsu Province and 3.71 times higher in Ji'nan of East China's Shandong Province, according to the Shanghai Observer report. 

A 2018 report from also pointed out that Chinese media prefer to associate car accidents with female drivers in their news headlines before official investigations conclude, which further deteriorates the public impression of female drivers.

So how do foreign media portray female drivers? Is discrimination against female drivers as widespread in other countries as it is in China? To glean insight into this timely issue, the Global Times  interviewed some foreigners in Shanghai.

Most of our foreign interviewees said that media in their respective countries rarely if ever emphasizes a driver's gender in car accident reports.

Jean Crosnier from France said he does not think French media ever mentions gender information in reports about traffic accidents. "I don't think it's really useful to point out the sex of the driver," he said. "Pointing out women would make them angry I guess."

Likewise, Sam Molloy from London also said he has never found any news in the UK stressing the sex of a driver involved in a car accident. "I suppose it would reinforce negative stereotypes about different sexes, and maybe affect their driving insurance rates. Perhaps such news would have a negative impact if presented that way," he added.

Gia Yannuzzi and Karl Arney from the US also think media in the US does not cite a driver's gender when reporting accidents. But British nationals Jan Knights and David Royston said their country's media mentions gender and age, though not in a negative way.

"They just say whether it was a male or female and their age," they told the Global Times.

Women are more cautious

Though most of our interviewees do not think their country's media purposely spreads the misconception that females are bad drivers, discrimination or stereotypes toward female drivers still happens.

For example, Yannuzzi told the Global Times, "A lot of people still make jokes about female drivers," while Arney told us that "The media in the US doesn't push that idea, but a lot of people still have that idea or stereotype about female drivers."

Most foreigners we spoke with agree that gender has nothing to do with one's driving skills. British Royston said driving skills depend on the person, not their gender. "Actually, male drivers are probably more aggressive," Arney counters, adding that in the US, senior citizens are more likely to be perceived as road killers.

Yannuzzi said, "In fact, females are probably better drivers, because they are more cautious. I would think that they are less likely to get into accidents." Knights agreed that women tend to be more careful and men more dangerous. "Unless women are driving past a shoe shop," she joked.

A new report released by a Chinese online map provider revealed that Chinese female drivers are less likely to suddenly accelerate or brake or drive over the speed limit than their male counterparts, which suggests women tend to drive in a more civilized way, Shanghai Observer reported in October 2018.

But the same report pointed out the reaction time of women when driving is slower than men, which can cause accidents.

Some of our interviewees said that, regardless of their driving skills, societal discrimination against females is still common in every country.

Knights, for instance, said women in Britain tend to hit a glass ceiling in their careers. "A lot of women cannot reach the top. Men rise easily while women not so much," she told the Global Times.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Arney. "Look at the 2016 elections in the US. So many people who voted for Obama and said they would vote for a Democratic president chose not to go for Hilary - just because they didn't like the idea of voting for a woman," he pointed out.

This story was written based on a Global Times video.

Jan Knights (left) and David Royston Photo: Lu Ting/GT

Sam Molloy Photo: Lu Ting/GT

Sam Molloy Photo: Lu Ting/GT

Jean Crosnier Photo: Lu Ting/GT

Karl Arney (left) and Gia Yannuzzi Photo: Lu Ting/GT

Scan to watch a video of the entire interview





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