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Do Women Take the Backseat to Men?

It was no big surprise to me that men spend more time behind the wheel when a couple rides together. My suspicion was confirmed by independent data (see here). And you, the readers, chipped in: 227 of you reported that the man drives more in your relationship vs. only 67 who said the woman does.
In the last couple of posts, I’ve reported some of your reasons for why this is. They ran from the trivial (it’s hard to work the pedals in heels); to the familial (women are more likely to have to care for kids in the backseat); to the cultural (TV ads show men doing the driving); to the criminal (men hold their liquor better).
Many might have expected to hear a narrative about dominating men imposing their will on the auto and its helpless occupants. Last time, I reported that some of you think this way.
But the big surprise is that this is a distinctly minority opinion. Instead, in relationships where the man drives more, 113 of you said this was due to the woman’s preference, while only 43 said it was the choice of the man.
If we’re out to oppress, guys, we’re doing a really bad job of it.

To be fair to the ladies, there does seem to be one powerful element of male insufferableness at play. Lots and lots of women reported that they prefer that the man take the wheel, but only under duress: their men are intolerable backseat drivers.

On the other hand, although men seem to be the major offenders the phenomenon does cut both ways:

  • Personally, I’d rather my wife drives. If I’m driving she’s always telling me how to drive, or the route to take. With her driving the radio is the only source of irritating noise.
  • Ken

  • My wife doesn’t like driving that much. She’d rather read a book or correct my driving….. I, on the other hand, like driving, and can say “Yes, Dear” with surprising enthusiasm when corrected.
  • Chris McCracken
    Looking back over these posts, I’d say the most surprising thing is just how complex a seemingly simple phenomenon really is. You gave a very wide variety of causes for this behavior, running the gamut from the social to the cultural to the political to the logistical to the psychological to the physical. In the end I’m not sure there is any one conclusive answer.
    One burning question remains: Should we care about any of this? Or have you wasted valuable time reading these posts when you and your significant other could have been spending quality time out on the roadways making each other miserable?

    I actually maintain that the topic is a very important one. Both the volume and passion of your comments indicates the situation definitely stirs the emotions.
    And, perhaps even more importantly, I maintain that the male/female driving divide is actually an issue of life and death. More to come.