When you think motors and engines, the stereotype is to think men; men in greasy overalls working a faulty engine part, men in sportcars speeding like hell on the Grand Prix, men as bus drivers hurling insults at people in traffic, or even at a lower level, boys running through the streets rolling an old car tyre with a stick.
The thing is: when it comes to automobiles, men dominate. However, due to the lax in cultural stereotypes, in recent times, women have sped up to par.
A random appraisal of traffic will reveal that there are more women in the driver’s seat than there were, say 20 years ago, which is a pretty big deal especially since women are not allowed to drive cars in some climes.
Another notable thing is that you are unlikely to find women behind the wheels or yellow and green taxis. These women mostly drive their personal or family cars; minibuses for example. They drive to pick their kids up from school, drive to the mall and also to work. You are also likely to see the L tag hanging behind their cars. (I assure you that this L tag doesn’t mean Loser; it means Learner).
Because of this, it is common for people to describe “poor driving” as a woman’s driving. The irony (a hilarious one, at that) is that, in Nigerian highways, poor driving would mean being conscious — or superconscious — of traffic laws so much that the person drives carefully.
For many Nigerian women, their introduction to driving came in their husband’s house because fathers are more willing to teach their sons to drive than their daughters.
Learning to drive with a husband is extreme sport. In that space, professional treatment — that would have been received from proper driving schools — is blurred out. Husbands, unfortunately, are hardly patient enough to walk their partners through the clumsiness of their first drive.
It is rebuke after rebuke. This lack of confidence and patience shown by men to their partners has left a dent on women’s composure when they drive.
An extensive research has shown that 58% of women admitted to being anxious and nervous when they drove with their male partners in the cars with them. When it comes to men, the reverse was the case. Only 1 in 10 men admitted to driving extra carefully when their partners were in the car.
In fact, 9% of the men in the study said they would rather not have their partners drive them because they have reservations about their skills and confidence level.
Although 17 per cent of the men outrightly declare that they are better than their partners at driving; women, according to the study conducted by Aviva, say their partners are reckless drivers. And statistics have indeed shown that men get into more accidents than women (but we could perhaps say this is because there are more male drivers?)
The only way to get better is by practice. And when there is a conducive environment for practice, confidence comes naturally. Men must shake off their Fast and Furious fantasies and come to terms with the fact that not all women will drive Letty Ortiz. When woman drive men, men must be sure to not drive them crazy.