Why German Women Can′t Read Maps … But Can Park the Car | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 28.08.2003
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Why German Women Can't Read Maps … But Can Park the Car

Only some of the clichés about German drivers are true according to a new study.


Who's the better driver? New research reveals Germany's men and women are pretty equal

Good news for misogynists everywhere: almost a third of Germany's women don't trust themselves to change a car tire. But not all of the old clichés about the driving abilities of the two sexes are true, according to a new study.

The research, carried out by Hamburg-based car magazine Auto Bild and international insurer Axa, asked a representative group of 1,000 Germans aged between 18 and 65 about their behavior when driving their cars. And the results were, well, just the ticket for a slow news day.

Where's that nice mechanic man?

Only 27 percent of German women questioned by researchers admitted they had problems with reverse parking, compared with 15 percent of men. When it came that old chestnut of tire changing, men were well over the 'can-do' threshold: 95 percent proudly announced they could change a tire. For women, although some (though not all) driving schools will show German learners the basics of car repair, only 38 percent of female drivers believed they would be able to change a tire without asking for help.

Not sexist but a high opinion of themselves

Despite that, the opinion of German citizens on other Germans behind the wheel was less than sexist. 57 percent of those asked said they believed women were just as good behind the wheel as men. Only 21 percent said they believed male drivers were better. Slightly more German men say they use their mobile phones while behind the wheel -- 53 percent against 42 percent of women.

As far as speed on Germany's famous no-limit highways, males are more likely to push the pedal to the metal. Or at least that's what German women say. For them, German males drive more "aggressively, riskily and ruthlessly."

But pushing it to the limits is just something young men need to do to get it out of their system according to the research. According to Axa chief Norbert Rollinger, once Germany's males reach age 30, they become "more feminine" behind the wheel. Road accident statistics reveal "both sexes drive just as well as each other," Rollinger continued, speaking to German news agency dpa.

Regardless of age, the vast majority saw no problem with their behaviour on the roads. Some 93 percent of women and 96 percent of men believed they were "good drivers." Although in truth around 10,000 lose their lives in road accidents in Germany each year. If that's the case, remarked Anja Schweitzer, a researcher with the Psychonomics polling institute, "there really shouldn't be any accidents on Germany's roads."

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