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Preventing the ‘Bad Woman Driver’ Stereotype

by TerriAnn
Crazy / Bad Woman Driver Comic with Joker and Harley, courtesy of Amy Methven

If you google ‘women drivers’, all you’ll get are photos of ridiculous accidents and rude comments about their quality of driving. Searching ‘male drivers’ brings up happy, but sometimes angry, drivers that seem to like posing with their heads out the window. Think about it. The phrase ‘bad woman driver’ is so common in many languages and lands but do you ever hear about bad male drivers?

Unfair Prejudice Behind the Bad Woman Driver Stereotype

Neither gender is perfect and both make, well, dumb mistakes (though men will be less likely to admit it). However, if someone cuts in front of you or takes a gazillion tries to get into a parking space, many tend to assume that it’s a woman. If the driver is female, they’ll say, “Gah, crazy woman driver . . . ” But, if it turns out to be a man they’ll just think, “Hmm, that wasn’t smart.”

For example, I am a woman and am Chinese (double-whammy, I know) but, in my 19 years of driving, I . . .

  • have a perfect driving record and have never gotten a moving violation.
  • taught my husband to drive (who happens to be very good at it now).
  • know how to drive a stick-shift / manual, as does my mom and three sisters.
  • was never been at fault for or caused an accident.
  • got my driver’s license in Holland on the 1st try (very rare there).
  • can park pretty well, including parallel parking.
  • have never caused major damage to any car I’ve driven.
Crazy / Bad Woman Driver Comic with Joker and Harley, courtesy of Amy Methven

Image Created For Cookies & Clogs / Driving Mamas by Amy Methven

Even so, if I accidentally get a bit close to a car in the next lane, I’ll get a dirty look that just screams, “Hmph! Crazy asian lady!” It does irk me but I just chalk it up to ignorance. That and the fact that I do the same thing but think, “Oh, man! Why’d it have to be an asian lady?!”

5 Tips to Prevent the Bad Woman Driver Stereotype

Ultimately, a lot of people think women are naturally bad drivers. Is that true? Sometimes (I’ve seen the YouTube videos) but not always. So what can we, as female drivers, do to prove the stereotype wrong or at least avoid adding fuel to the fire?

  1. Learn the dimensions of your car.
    This is a biggie! Doing so will help you park better, get closer to drive-in windows and parking garage ticket machines, allow you to actually make THREE-point turns, avoid running over islands, etc. You are intelligent so use those smarts to get to know the vehicle you may spend about half your life in! Think of it as an extension of your house.
  2. Don’t multi-task.
    It is true that women tend to multi-task while men focus on one thing. While driving, this can make a huge difference. So, no make-up, texting, talking on the phone (even handsfree can be dangerous), digging in your purse, etc. Mirrors are meant as safety precautions. Controls are set on the steering wheel so you don’t have to divert your attention. Don’t allow anything to take your mind and vision off your driving.
  3. Keep your area clear.
    My husband always scolds me if I have my purse on my lap or anywhere near my feet. That’s just an accident waiting to happen. Also, if you’re VERY pregnant, I would recommend that you try not to drive much. Logistically speaking, having a whole other person attached to you restricts movement when trying to maneuver or when visually checking the space around you.
  4. Slow down.
    We have places to go, people to see, and things to do. Having a lead foot won’t help us in any of that if we get a ticket or are in an accident. I have to remind myself of this a lot since I have the tendency to be late (I’m working on that). Too much speed can mean missing turns and trying to catch them at the last minute, getting the wrong angle for parking or turning, and being a mean driver that doesn’t let anyone in your lane (merging means you take turns).
  5. Be cautious but not to a fault.
    Is there a ‘stop’ sign or ‘yield’ sign? If not, there’s no need to slow down at every corner if you are on a main road. However, if there is a ‘yield’ sign, that means slow down to check traffic, not stop for no reason. Pay good attention to what’s happening around you. Even before getting into the car, it’s good to note any poles, walls, or carts. When backing up, actually turn your head and look behind you as it helps with depth perception.

How good of a driver are you?

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