Date registered: Jan 2005
Vehicle: 1992 W126 300 SE
Location: Head in the clouds
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Why I prefer female cab drivers....
Monday, 7th November 2005
Women's brains 'make them safer drivers'
A DIFFERENCE in the way women's brains work could explain why they have fewer road accidents than men.
Insurance companies recognise women as safer drivers and adjust their premiums accordingly.
Men, on the other hand, pride themselves at being better at parking and reading maps.
Sex hormones could be the reason for their different abilities, scientists believe.
A new study by researchers at the University of Bradford found that women are significantly better than men at shifting concentration. Amarylis Fox, who helped to conduct the study, said: "Women seem to realise that they are being asked to do something new much more quickly than men.
"Men tend to blindly carry on with the original task.
"The results have clear implications. Basically, women were twice as good at realising they had to change tasks as men."
The report says women behind the wheel were likely to be quicker to switch focus to deal with an unexpected event - such as a car pulling out in front of them, or a blown out tyre on a motorway.
"Men are supposed to be better at spatial tasks, such as parking," said Ms Fox.
"The male hormone testosterone is supposed to aid spatial awareness. But insurance companies still think women are less risky on the road.
"Being able to switch attention between different things while driving is obviously going to help.
"It's especially true when driving on a motorway, which can be very dull and tedious. Your mind tends to get stuck on the same track. Our test, in its limited way, shows that women in that kind of situation can change their train of thought faster.
"Just as testosterone boosts spatial judgment in men, the female hormone oestrogen may be responsible for the attention-switching ability of women."
Previous research has shown that women show sharp improvements in certain mental tasks when their oestrogen level peaks, for instance at specific times in the menstrual cycle.
The same trend has been seen in women on HRT.
The experiment involved 43 men and women who were asked to respond to images flashed up on a computer screen. AA safety boss Andrew Howard said: "Motorway hypnosis is a well known problem - you switch off and become slow to react. But because of the driving habits of men and women, it's not easy to assess.
"Men do more motorway driving while women tend to contend with the more difficult conditions in town centres, often having to deal with children as well."
In 2003, male motorists in the UK were involved in 182,000 injury accidents, compared with only 98,000 women.