I'm the proof women drivers are worse than men
Updated: 2011-10-27 07:53
By Debbie Mason (China Daily)
It's taken two decades of driving and immense inner turmoil, but I have finally surrendered and now admit that an age-old claim is true: Women are far worse drivers than men.
It's something I notice particularly in Beijing, where I ride my bicycle every day.
Cycling really pits you against the traffic and I swear that almost every time I am nearly killed, the cause is a woman driver.
Every time there's a delay behind just one car dithering about turning right or going straight on, or taking hours to parallel park in a space that could fit a tank, if you look in the driver's window, nine times out of 10 it's a woman.
And I am one of them.
I recently hired a car to go out into the countryside, and just as I was crawling up a narrow lane that hugged a cliff, three cars came down the other way.
Panic. To my right, a steep drop. What to do? Well obviously there was only one thing I could do. Wind down the window, assume a petrified expression and bleat, "I'm scared!"
The driver and his mate in the first car assured me there was plenty of room to pass, and I'm sure there was, but I was frozen solid.
With the result that three cars had to reverse up a winding hillside track in order to let me pass, still panicking.
The following day a male friend visited and I asked him if he would drive us down that horrible thin road.
Why don't they feel even a touch of anxiety about these things?
He just got in the car and drove it confidently down the hill, without even a thought that he might meet another vehicle and go careering off the cliff, killing everyone in the car and whoever was in the field below. Not a hint of fear.
But men, of course, aren't perfect drivers either. They may be confident, but they are also extremely selfish.
Where you will always find a woman holding up the traffic by dithering, you will always find that when a car is pushing into a line of traffic, or overtaking on a sharp bend, or speeding past the bicycles in the bike lane in the wrong direction, hooting, it will be a man.
They are also, usually, the horn blowers, the queue jumpers, the regulation flouters.
Yet amazingly, when I am standing at the edge of a pedestrian crossing on a busy mad road, clutching my 6-year-old boy's hand, it is only the male drivers that ever slow down to let me cross.
The women, I get the sense, do not even see us. They are too panic-stricken about whether they are lost, or if it might rain, or whether their friend broke up with their boyfriend, or if their boss is going to like their report, and all of these things at the same time.
It's one of these cross-cultural phenomena. My friend, Gillian, jogs in London, and says where women slow down and clearly aren't sure what to do, men will either let her cross or own the road, with no equivocation.
I believe it is simply down to focus and the fact that where women have several things buzzing around their minds simultaneously, men, our prehistoric hunters, stick to the task on hand.
Where my sister would drive down the fast lane of an expressway reading a map, a man would already know how to get there - or refuse to look at a map on principle and drive around for hours without one, claiming he was not lost. Not lost of course, and certainly very focused.
Many reports suggest men cause most accidents, but as there are more of them on the road overall, this is inevitable.
And until I get some more reliable evidence, I'm handing over the keys anyway.