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Research Sheds Light On Men's And Women's Differing Attitudes To Road Safety

A new research paper by Dr. Claire Corbett, Brunel University, has found that men and women respond differently to speed cameras. The paper entitled Gender differences in responses to speed cameras: typology findings and implications for road safety, shows that women have more favourable views towards cameras and comply with them more than men.

Corbett's earlier research in the mid-1990s showed how drivers responded to speed cameras in one of several ways, and how the typology of responses produced was linked with drivers' characteristics. The recent study revisited these findings in terms of gender characteristics. “When you consider that four out of ten licensed drivers in England and Wales are women, it seems essential that gender should be included in all studies of driving behaviour,“ says Dr. Corbett.

Although it is acknowledged that women do not drive uniformly, the research showed that:
• Significantly more women than men - 56% compared to 43% - said they complied with speed cameras
• Women were less likely to manipulate speed cameras by slowing down before the camera and accelerating away. 39% of men did this compared to 25% of women
• 24% of women wanted to see more speed cameras in the areas where they lived compared to 13% of men
• 84% of women think cameras make a positive difference to accident reduction compared to 75% of men
• Significantly less women than men - 36% compared to 52% - believed that the speed cameras' purpose is to make easy money from drivers.

“Our findings and those of other research together show women tend to drive and think more safely about driving and road safety matters than men. It is therefore important that the views of both sexes inform any decision by policymakers to change speed limits or to adjust speed enforcement policy. There seems often to be an assumption of a general consensus of all drivers on these matters.“ To illustrate this, the report's review of a sample of 300 items from national UK newspapers referencing both 'speed limits' and 'drivers' found only 11 per cent distinguished between the sexes in reporting drivers' wishes and views on speed and speed limits.

The report also critiques the use of speed awareness courses mainly for those drivers caught just over the prescribed limit. “Since male drivers tend to dominate the higher margins of excess speed and engage more often than women in risky behaviours on the roads, such drivers can miss out on the educational opportunity offered by these programmes,“ says Corbett. “After all, it is male attitudes to speed and its control that present the biggest challenge.“