If women are “frazzled” they’re neurotic, says Tele’s Kevin Hepworth

Daily Telegraph: Women are safer drivers, but more neurotic behind the wheel

THE age-old dispute between men and women drivers has finally been solved – women are the safest but most neurotic behind the wheel.

Bad weather and unfamiliar roads upset female drivers while heavy traffic can drive men to distraction.

Kids behaving badly and poor road conditions can send tension levels soaring in both sexes.

But despite more female drivers feeling frazzled when they were lost or didn’t know where they were going, women came out as the safest drivers. (emphasis added)

So it’s neurotic to find bad weather and unfamiliar roads “upsetting”, but it’s not neurotic to find heavy traffic “frustrating”? How does that work?

Could it possibly be that the driving stresses that women report experiencing more than men are anxiety stresses that make them more cautious and therefore more risk-averse on the roads, while the driving stresses that men report experiencing more than women are the stresses that make them more aggressive and therefore more risk-taking on the roads? Which one of those behaviours looks most “neurotic” again, if the word absolutely must be used, Kevin Hepworth (the NRMA certainly don’t seem to have used the word in their press release material)?

Hint: if a stress stimulus produces behaviour that reduces the incidence of injury/fatality, then that sensation of stress and the consequent behavioural response is rational, not neurotic.

Here’s a comparison with how other news organisations reported the same story:
Women frazzled when lost, men can’t handle traffic: survey LIVENEWS.com.au
Female drivers frazzled when lost: NRMA The Age



Categories: gender & feminism, language, media, Science

Tags: ,

16 replies

  1. This is so irritating.
    I once had a male friend tell me that the insurance discounts offered to women are unfair because while men cause more serious accidents, women cause far more minor ones therefore aren’t safer drivers.
    To which the only response that I could manage was something along the lines of: so men cause more deaths and serious injuries on the roads and women cause more accidents that don’t involve an insurance claim, but that doesn’t make women safer drivers?
    He didn’t answer but I like to think his brain imploded just a little.

  2. if a stress stimulus produces behaviour that reduces the incidence of injury/fatality, then that sensation of stress and the consequent behavioural response is rational, not neurotic.

    Exactly – A mild to moderate degree of arousal (ie anxiety) enhances performance. What this seems to demonstrate is that instead of going from complacent to enraged in 60 seconds, women experience a performance enhancing degree of arousal in challenging driving conditions and are also self aware enough to report on their internal states accurately.
    This is my bette noir. I am making a concerted effort to rebut every instance where my thinking is characterized as primarily emotional/ intuitive. Contrariwise I think it is high time we emphasized just how emotional men get when making decisions. Watching The Howard Years the other night I counted smugness, contempt, compassion (the sadly retiring Petro Georgiou) and exasperation in addition to all that fear and loathing.

  3. That reminded me of a conversation I had with a very blokey bloke once. I dared mention that women got lower insurance premiums because they had less accidents and the response was: “Yeah, that’s because women are busy CAUSING all the accidents!” I was never sure whether that was because blokes were getting distracted by fuckable pedestrian women or because women were driving erratically and men were having accidents to avoid them on the roads. I didn’t bother to clarify, I’m sure you can understand why.
    Emma’s last blog post..NOW I’m crying.

  4. my bette noir.
    THat is a fabulous neologism and I am going to use it at every opportunity!
    I’m seeing slightly droopy eyelids.

  5. 🙂 Yah, Bete’s big sista. *blush* Hopefully anyone with extreme sensitivity to spelling and usage have long since learned to avert their eyes.

  6. *cough* strike have, replace with has.

  7. So it’s neurotic to find bad weather and unfamiliar roads “upsetting”, but it’s not neurotic to find heavy traffic “frustrating”? How does that work?

    Presumably the same way that it’s neurotic for women but not men when this – Kids behaving badly and poor road conditions can send tension levels soaring in both sexes – happens.

  8. I fail at coding.
    [you only left out one little / character! sorted ~ tigtog]

  9. Wow, and here I thought the whole age-old dispute thing had already been solved, by insurance premiums.

  10. I think women need to take a leaf out of the young men’s guide to driving. Rather than being ‘frazzled’ young men are highly confident and unperturbed by such things as poor roads and torrential rain. As a result of their superior driving skills and attitude, they’re hardly represented at all in accident, road fatality and traffic violation statistics.

  11. Yes, and then in our advanced learn-from-men driving course we can have stress related strokes and/or beat the sh*t out of other road users since our neuroses [oh, no wait, if it’s men it’s valid frustration and life pressures] mean that while we can calmly cause accidents for others whilst speeding in the rain we can no longer cope with the stimulus of workaday frustration such as lots of traffic…on the main road…in peak hour…
    Why stop at driving? Let’s un-neurotic our whole life and take courses in how to be more *rational* entitled Smack This Dude Up for Looking At You Funny.

  12. I like the way you think, FP.

  13. Emma @ #3 — no, no, we cause the accidents by driving at the speed limit, ie much too slowly. They have to speed up and crash into each other so that they can get past us.
    It’s our fault, see, same as men who hit their wives. ‘It’s her fault, she made me.’

  14. Women are much better drivers because they have more advanced understandings of physics and spatial relations. No. Really. They do. And one day some brave person will publish the scientific findings that prove this. Women also don’t have enormous testosterone levels feeding directly into their (ahem) manhood egos. Its not that women are mousey, cautious and ultra-careful, its just that they can hear and understand when they are thrashing their car engine needlessly and doing untold mechanical damage and they have grasped the logic behind it being quite unnecessary to accelerate up to stop signs.
    The next man who dares tell me how to drive a car will find himself walking.

  15. Let’s un-neurotic our whole life and take courses in how to be more *rational* entitled Smack This Dude Up for Looking At You Funny.
    FP, sign me up for the graduate level courses, please. Bonus points if it includes material on “how to take everything personally and assume it’s insulting, to boot”. (I see that one a lot at work)
    slave2tehtink’s last blog post..Yarn……

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