1931 - Women as motorists

Upon the general proposition that most women (as compared with most men) are bad drivers, there surely cannot be any dispute at all; it is a fact perfectly manifest to every observant user of the road. Every good driver takes extra care when he sees a woman in charge of a car, whether he is meeting her or overtaking her, and that fact surely speaks for itself. For this general inferiority there are two obvious reasons. The first - and less important - is that women, except quite young women, do not very commonly possess the nervous imperturbability which is essential to good driving.

The second is simply that a great many women quite unconsciously carry on to the road the assumptions of the side-walk. The men whom she has met on the side-walk, whether they were dukes or tramps, have always stepped aside to let her pass, but when motoring they "lose all their manners" and refuse to allow her to hold the crown of the road.

It is likely that most women motorists will always be inclined to be rather nervous - and to that extent unsatisfactory - drivers, but they might be a great deal more competent than they are if only when at the wheel they would make it a rule to forget that they are women.

This article first appeared in the 29 November 1999 issue of the New Statesman, An explosion of puffery