Linda Colling: Penshaw verdict on bad drivers

Retired headteachers Pat Cowan (left) and Judith Thomas
Retired headteachers Pat Cowan (left) and Judith Thomas
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DON’T blame me. I don’t believe a word of this bunkum.

It must have been a man to come up with writing off women drivers as lying their heads off that eight-out-of-10 involved in a car crash deny it was their fault and look for something – or someone – else to blame.

What a joke this latest research is, which found the vast majority of male drivers polled admitted that a collision was their fault, whereas more than half of women said they would blame the other driver.

Unbelievable that a staggering 78 per cent of women involved in a car crash said they weren’t to blame and came up with excuses for what went wrong.

Who says so? Insurance company Young Marmalade, which insures young and newly-qualified drivers and polled 2,000 motorists. But was that 1,000 men and 1,000 women?

“Women will rarely take responsibility in the event of a car crash, while men are more prepared to own up to mistakes and settle disputes without arguing,” says the report.

Laughable. I’d say it was more likely to be the other way round, with men on a short fuse, men in white vans, macho men in their dream machines and boy racers.

Which all begs the question: who is the better driver, men or women? Men are more likely to have an accident in a dramatic way while women knock down the gate post on the way in.

Generally, women are more patient, careful and less likely to lose our cool and control at the wheel. There are exceptions.

Another incredible statistic from this report showed only a third of men admitted to reacting to other motorists’ bad driving, by swearing or flashing hand gestures, suggesting they intended to ignore the mistakes of other drivers.

Not my experience at all.

What says it all is that 70 per cent of men are more likely to be involved in a serious road accident. They confessed to taking more risks and breaking the law more often.

And twice as many men than women owned up to regularly exceeding the speed limit – 63 per cent compared with 26 per cent – while four out of 10 men revealed they were amber gamblers at traffic lights, compared with just eight per cent of women.

We know.

But what really tickled me were the comical excuses given by women to wheedle out of any blame.

I take them all with a pinch of salt – “My windscreen was shattered after an angry squirrel threw a nut;” “I bumped into a lamp post which was obscured by human beings;” “At 8.15am I drove out of my driveway straight into a bus. It was the fault of the bus for being 15 minutes late” and, “I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother–in–law and headed over the embankment.”

Stop there. It’s fellas that make jokes about their mother–in–laws, not women. A fact not lost on any of the women I asked about this report in Penshaw Tearooms who all reckoned it was up the poll.

“They must have trawled and trawled to get research like that,” said retired headteacher Judith Thomas, 61, of South Shields. A driver for 25 years, she concluded this was more contrived than an honest snapshot and all by men of course.

Judith, a gran added: “I think they have taken a comedian’s script.”

Her pal Pat Cowan, 61, also a retired headteacher from Sunderland, a driver for 36 years, said: “No one could make up such silly stories. They remind me of exam bloomers. I don’t think it’s true at all. Women are better drivers because you are more conscious you have other people in the car, especially children and are more careful.”

Susan Bell, 46, a Sunderland mother-of-three, reckoned men would be less likely to take responsibility. A driver for 20 years, she said: “A lot of men don’t like good women drivers. If it was my fault, I’d hold my hands up.”

Hilda Scott, 62, of Middle Herrington, after 30 years at the wheel without an accident said: “Men are worse drivers.”

Daughter Andrea Scott, 41, a mother of two from Farringdon, and a checkout assistant, said it was a young woman who drove into the back of her car at a supermarket: “I could see her coming towards me doing her hair.”

Well, it was a man I saw come towards me at high speed the other day, slamming into reverse in a queue of traffic and straight into the front of our car. He was determined to grab a parking space at all cost without looking in his mirror.

Both these drivers were as bad as one another – irresponsible. What is also true is there are more aggressive drivers, especially young ones, less courteousness, more impatience, a faster pace and cars to match.