Females take over steering wheel

Grace Vance

Junior Carson Vance, 17, leaves his car to get ready for class in the morning.
Junior Carson Vance, 17, leaves his car to get ready for class in the morning. Photo by Grace Vance.

[dropcap style=”simple” size=”4″]  I[/dropcap]t was 8:30 a.m. when senior Jackie Gajia left from a hooping festival in Belle, Mo. with a friend. From the flow arts festival where she watched hoop dancing and yoga workshops, Gajia drove down unkempt roads to get back to Columbia.

As she navigated through sharp turns of the winding road, Gajia turned a corner into a pothole. Driving on U.S. Route 89, her 1997 Saturn flipped twice over the median and rolled into a ditch by a nearby church.

“It came out of nowhere,” Gajia said in an e-mail interview. “I didn’t see the pothole at all. [I] only felt it.”

 Gajia said she expected the drive back to Columbia to take about an hour and 15 minutes; however, the day of the crash it took much longer. After the accident Gajia said her friend helped keep her calm by being rational about the situation and knowing they had to get away from the car quickly. Gajia called the ambulance, and both she and her friend, also 17, were taken to a Jefferson City hospital. Neither suffered severe injuries she said, only bruises and whiplash.

“I was terrified and shaken,” she said, “[and] my car was totaled.”
The 17-year-old had inherited the 1997 Saturn from her grandmother, who has since passed. She had only driven the car for six months before the crash happened and was towed away and sold for scrap. Now, she said she and her dad share a 2002 Toyota. At the time, Gajia said she felt overwhelmed and guilty about the situation.
“[The Saturn] was my grandma’s car, and I just felt bad. It was what I had left of her y’know?” said Gajia. “I can’t really tell you why I felt guilty. I know it’s illogical.”
Despite getting into an accident after her first visit to the festival, Gajia said she would be going back again this September. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, causes of PTSD include getting into a car accident. The estimated risk of developing PTSD for people who experienced a car accident is 16.8 percent, statistics from myptsd.com state. Gajia is part of the 83.2 percent of drivers who didn’t develop PTSD, and weren’t afraid to drive again after an accident.
When comparing how men and women differ while driving, Gajia said it depends on the age group. Boys her age tend to drive more aggressively than girls she said. For example, Gajia said she sees males driving in the Rock Bridge parking lot without seatbelts everyday and taking turns before checking to see if there are any cars near. According to research released by esurance.com, males, especially young men, tend to drive more aggressively than women. The research also concludes that young men display their aggressive driving in a direct manner, rather than indirectly. Male drivers also have a greater likelihood than females to take more risks and break the law most often while driving.
Because they drive at the speed limit more often than not Gajia said, female drivers in her age group tend to drive safer than males.
Both genders are equally prone to distraction she said, and run the same risk of causing an accident because everyone is attached to their cell phones. According to the American Automobile Association, 46 percent of teenage drivers admit to texting while driving. Statistics from textinganddrivingsafety.com said five seconds is the minimal amount of time someone’s attention is taken from the road while texting and driving. If driving at 55 mph, this is the same as driving the length of a football field without looking at the road.
According to esurance.com, one of many factors an insurer takes into account when determining a premium is gender. Accident and DUI statistics reflect that male drivers, for the most part, take more driving risks than females, though women drive less than men. In part, insurance companies price policies by predicting risk.
Gajia believes personality also comes into play when people drive. People with a tendency toward type A personalities are more impatient and hostile in situations, according to About.com. Other characteristics also include time urgency, which could contribute to offensive driving.
“I bet type A personalities are more aggressive drivers,” Gajia said. “[They] are just more competitive and aggressive in general.”
Human error accounts for over 90 percent of accidents on the road, according to the International Organization for Road Accident Prevention. Some of the accidents caused by human error are speeding under the influence, changing lanes without signalling, and passing red lights.
When junior Jilly Dos Santos first got her license at 16 years old, she said she was terrified of crashing her car. Research from dosomething.org reports out of drivers any other age, 16 year olds have a higher crash rate. Also, one in five 16 year old drivers has an accident in their first year on the road.
Weather they are male or female, the 17 year old said a lot of students seem overconfident in their skills behind the wheel. Dos Santos, who drives a silver 2012 Ford Focus, said she feels like guys are not as mindful as girls when driving and are riskier as part of their nature. Males her age who drive recklessly don’t usually look before they turn she said.
“I think that men tend to be more reckless, but women tend to be more careless, if that makes any sense,” Dos Santos said in a follow up email interview. “I see guys speed and pull sharp turns and run stop lights just for kicks, but at the same time I see a lot of girls who text and drive or focus too much on the radio and talking to friends.”

The main cause of recklessness on the road Dos Santos said, is people being distracted and overconfident. Male drivers are more than twice as likely to suffer an accident due to distraction behind the wheel than female drivers, research from an insurer in the UK has found.

Men are more likely than women to get into a car accident, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, meaning insurers are not as likely to have to pay claims for female drivers. Because men are about 10 percent less likely to wear a seat belt, they face a greater risk of serious injury, resulting in higher medical expenses, according to esurance.com. Driving records are a big factor when it comes to pricing, a history of driving safely usually translates into lower rates for both males and females.
She said she thinks both genders are equally prone to distraction “but girls typically use their phones more, which can cause problems.”
Paying attention to other drivers Dos Santos said, and coming to a full stop at a stop sign are characteristics good drivers have. She said she knows people who get nervous, and when they drive, their anxiety is reflected. They will go too slow she said, wait longer than necessary to make a turn or refuse to turn right on a red light. However, she also knows people who are very confident Dos Santos said, and speed or barely make it through a traffic light.
“I think that if someone has trouble focusing or is too cocky that either characteristic can hinder their driving ability.” Dos Santos said. “So if I can’t concentrate, I may accidentally merge into a lane and hit another car I wasn’t paying attention to. Or, if I am very self-assured, I may assume that while there is a car coming in the next lane, I’ll be able to make it, but then end up causing an accident because I overestimated my ability to get over in time.”
A study released by Quality Planning compared the number of times men were cited verses women when analyzing various kinds of traffic violations. The result was that men tend to break more traffic laws than women. Because of their tendency to drive dangerously and violate laws made to make roads safer like wearing seat belts, men cause more accidents and costly damage.
While driving down Providence, senior Staton Zaner said he sees a variety of drivers, from slow to aggressive. He said he is not usually a risk-taker on the road, and the majority of people try to stay safe behind the wheel.
Women are typically safer drivers, the 18-year-old said, because they tend to be less aggressive. According to psychcentral.com, the most aggressive drivers are young men between 17 to 35 years of age. However, Zaner also said women are probably more prone to distraction when driving.

“I like to think that I’m a pretty safe driver.” Zaner said. “I’m a defensive drive, I don’t speed too much [and] I haven’t been in any car accidents.”

Statistics from cdc.gov have found that, of males drivers in 2010 aged between 15 to 20 years old who were involved in fatal crashes, 39 percent were speeding at the time of the crash. Zaner said texting is one of the dangers that people of both gender face when driving, another is being intoxicated. Texting while driving is equivalent as driving after four beers, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. It also makes a driver 23 times more likely to crash.

“I think the main cause [for recklessness behind the wheel] is like between texting and drunk driving.” Zaner said. “People are just irresponsible on the road.”

By Grace Vance

Who do you think drives better, men or women? Leave your comment below.