By Laura McElligot
Being female myself, I tend to take it personally when I hear certain fellows (a term which does not apply to men only in this case) bad-mouthing women drivers as an entire section of society. The unusual aspect of this is that often the insulters are themselves the insulted.
That said, I myself am eager to admit that I am a terrible driver, a hazard to myself and all those other road users (drivers, pedestrians, stray dogs, other wildlife) who unfortunately happen to enter within my range.
However, alarmingly precarious as I am, I have yet to be involved in any kind of road incident, where the definition of road incident is non-inclusive of near misses. I am careful not to grow overly confident as this would be my downfall. I am aware that the longer I go without any kind of incident, the closer I come to having one, when I take probability into account.
Nonetheless I believe that my awareness of the fact that I am a bad driver is the contributing factor to my safety and lack of injury thus far. My constant worry has instilled in me a kind of superhuman driving vigilance which I feel gives me an upper hand on the good drivers who are of the opinion that their normal personal level of precaution will see them safely to their destination.
Recently, I was a passenger in a hit-and-run that involved solely female drivers. My mother was reversing out of her space in a shopping centre carpark. Regrettably, a woman was doing the same opposite us. Having spotted this woman my mother immediately stopped. The woman continued to career into the rear left side of our car. This was fine as accidents happen and it was only a very minor accident. My mother and I proceeded to step out of our car and assess the damage with a view to exchanging insurance details, only to find the woman making her getaway and officially shirking all responsibly for what happened. We were only too pleased. The damage to her car was undoubtedly a lot worse than ours.
Biologically, as women are more inclined to shop than men are, probability implies that they are therefore more likely to be involved in small collisions like these. It is not down to driving skill but rather the way we were created and it is irreversible. Woman is more predisposed to road incident than man, said God as he planted the forests. I also feel that a woman’s inherent ability to multitask affects the amount of concentration that she can allocate to driving at any one time. It is unfortunate that a woman is burdened with this capability for, although important in certain situations, it can cause distraction in the driver’s seat. For example, a woman may find herself engaged in a dialogue on her handheld telephonic apparatus when she discovers in her reflection that her make-up is in need of some touching up and must search in her bag for her lipstick. All this while she attempts to pull out of a notoriously dangerous junction. Life is difficult for the woman but she will manage.
As for me, my fear of being caught up in this multitasking whilst driving requires certain precautions to be taken. My seat is adjusted and seat belt fastened prior to displacement. Hopefully indicators, wipers, lights and side mirrors will not require too much use today. The radio is switched off and all passengers are warned against its use and also the use of speech (of any volume) either amongst themselves or directed at me, the driver. Windows are closed and locked and heating/aircon are turned down below distracting levels. Passengers, prepare for drive off.
I also rely heavily on divine intervention should I come across what I refer to as a conflict zone, i.e. any object or situation that interferes with my driving, for example, slow drivers, dangerous drivers, roadworks, pedestrians etc. In these situations, my usual response (but which of course varies from one situation to the next) is the survivor’s instinct, which is to swerve. It has thus far proved to work very well for me and I hope that this technique will continue to ensure my safety in the future.