Men and Women Driving: It’s All About the Brain

For women, driving a car is not a spiritual experience. We don’t think “Ooohhhh I get to drive today!”  (not if you’re  past the age of 16 anyway) When women and men ride together in a car, invariably the male wants to drive. It’s similar to possessing the remote control -- it’s all about power! Men have to be at the wheel.  If they are not, they will make you miserable telling you how to get where you are going and how fast you should drive to get there.

In fact, for women, since our brains are more likely to be thinking about 6 other things we need to do, driving tends to be a means to an end -- a means to pick up thekids, drop off the kids, go to the grocery store – you get the picture. But a man’s brain works more in a step-wise way. Men like to complete a task then move on to the next whereas women often juggle 2 or 3 tasks at the same time.

Let’s think about making breakfast. The woman pops in the toast while frying the eggs and whips out the butter and jam from the fridge all while the coffee pot fillswith water. The man is meticulously stirring the frozen orange juice concentrate, never once thinking if he left it for 10 minutes it would be easier to mix or that in the 10 minutes he could have made the toast gotten the jam and butter out and set the table. Sigh… that won’t happen. Back to driving.

To men, driving is a rite of passage. Ask any guy about his first car, sit back, and commence to thinking through the four other tasks that need to be done as he regales you with the make, model, horsepower, all the work he put into it, and, finally, how he crashed it! Men like to drive aggressively; men like speed and they focus on what they are doing so the research makes sense.  Research shows that men are more likely to have head-on collisions and are more likely to crash at high speeds.

Women crash at lower speeds, more often in parking lots, and when cars are closer together.  I know what you are thinking “A woman can wreck a parked car!” hardeeeeharhar -   but this research finding actually makes sense because of how our brains work differently. If a woman is moving through traffic at a slow speed her “female multi-tasking mind” will automatically think about other things and probably try to do some of them. She might make a phone call, look for a tissue, or (gasp!) even put on lipstick. Come on ladies – you know you do! Any of which could contribute to a fender bender.  Don’t even get me started about pregnant drivers. I think there must be a brain-uterine path shunting all the oxygen to the uterus and not the brain.It’s a wonder one of my children wasn’t delivered by a traffic cop.

So the next time you take a road trip together be sure to give him the keys – it will make him happy, you’ll get there faster, and driving is not about power for you anyway. This small act will free you to focus on the other dozen things you need to do and ultimately will keep him from driving you crazy as he turns into the “backseat” driver from hell.

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