ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Maybe they’re inspired by the can-do spirit of their governor and media star Sarah Palin, or maybe they’re just fed up with the cold and want to hop in a cab and drive anywhere, as long as it’s south.
Whatever the reason, a truck-driving school here in Anchorage is putting through its first ever all-female class. What’s more, the instructor thinks the women are, in some respects, superior drivers.
According to local TV station KTUU, the Center for Employment Education’s aptly named instructor John Lovedahl, the all-female class wasn’t planned it just happened.
Student Mary Peterson was attracted to the business because she’d heard that Alaskan drivers are in big demand all across the continent because they’ve handled such tough roads. This school and its graduates were recently featured on the NBC television hit “America’s Toughest Jobs.”
"We find that females, typically when they end the course, tend to be better shifters, and they’re smoother, so they don’t force things," said Lovedahl.
He might be on to something.
Although statistics regarding male-vs.-female driving abilities are rare as rabbis in Mecca, one study recently completed in Israel shows women drivers are far less likely to be involved in accidents than are male drivers.
Data released this summer by Israel’s National Road Safety Authority show that even though 40 percent of Israelis who have driver’s licences are women, only 10 percent of drivers killed in accidents are female.
Of all the people killed in car accidents in Israel in 2007, male fatalities outnumbered female deaths three to one. Even though there are far more women in Israel than there are men.
Also, a few years ago scientists at England’s University of Bradford released the results of a study that hinted estrogen, which most women have lots of, gives women the leg up when it comes to attention span and ability to learn rules.
The university’s school of endocrinology studied volunteers between the ages of 18 and 35 and determined that women also find it easier to concentrate at school.
Says Amarylis Fox, of the university: “This study demonstrates that tasks requiring mental flexibility favor women over men, an area previously not considered to elicit strong sex differences. Driving could be a good example of how this is applied to everyday life.
“Our study suggests that estrogen may positively influence neuronal activity in the frontal lobes, the area of the brain stimulated by tasks of attention and rule learning, which could explain the female advantage when performing these tasks.”
In our continuing efforts to fan the flames of office conflict, todaystrucking.com surveyed a few folks around the industry.
Ellen Voie, the executive director of Women in Trucking, says she presumes females are more likely to pass their driver’s licence tests on the first try “because we’re easier to teach.”
Offers a truck-driving school principal who preferred to remain anonymous: “Women are also a lot easier on the equipment.”