May 7, 2007— -- Paris Hilton is headed to jail for irresponsible driving.
Hilton was pulled over for speeding down Sunset Boulevard at night without headlights, and officers soon discovered that she was driving with a suspended license -- the result of a DUI from last September. She's been ordered to begin her 45-day sentence next month.
Media coverage of the fallen heiress and her auto mishaps reminds us of other famous females who prove a danger behind the wheel. Lindsay Lohan was involved in two serious car crashes, Nichole Richie and Michelle Rodriguez have been charged with DUI, and singer Brandy caused multiple collisions on Los Angeles freeway, tragically killing one driver.
Media coverage of these celebrities lends credence to the stereotype of the bad female driver, but don't be fooled: Most women don't drive like Paris.
The idea that women are worse drivers than men is an unfair myth.
I write about this myth, and many more, in my new paperback "Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity." Take a look ...
MYTH: Women are worse drivers than men.
TRUTH: Men are worse.
Women have a bad reputation when it comes to driving. Headlines like "Bad Driving 'Linked to Hormones'" fan the fire, sparking jokes like "Why was Helen Keller a bad driver? Because she was a woman." But researchers with the Social Issues Resource Center beg to differ. Its 2002 report analyzed a stack of studies on male and female driving differences and came to a bold conclusion: "In all studies and analyses, without exception, men have been shown to have a higher rate of crashes than women."
Men, the report claims, drive faster than women and have less regard for traffic laws: They speed, drive drunk, run stop signs, and therefore crash twice as often as women do. In the United States, men cause 71 percent of all road fatalities, a figure that's remained constant since 1975.
But don't men drive many more miles than women do? Wouldn't that account for some of the difference? It's true that males account for 62 percent of all miles driven, versus 38 percent for females, but even after miles are clocked and driving hours are factored in, men still get into way more fatal accidents.
The good news is that the trend of fatal crashes for both men and women has been steadily decreasing.
Why are men so accident-prone? Blame it on the Stone Age. Those hunter-gatherer genes that helped them feed their families are still active today, and are apparently wreaking havoc on our streets. World Health Organization reports find that men are more aggressive than women in general: A greater number of men die from falls, drowning, poisoning, and a host of other probably avoidable accidents. The WHO 2002 report makes no bones about its perspective: "'Masculinity' may be hazardous to health."