James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Thursday, August 19, 2004

A non-political observation -- or is it?

Tired of the physical recovery process after surgery, more than a little tired of politics, I took a break last weekend. Grabbed a couple of my cameras and a couple of fishing rods and headed to a resort area about 140 miles away for a little R&R.

On the road – mostly interstate freeway – I could not help but notice, again, a phenomenon that has been increasingly obvious over the past decade or more. I’ve bounced my thoughts off others, men and women, and found that all the men and some of the women have reached the same conclusion. Other women deny – sometimes angrily – that our observations can be accurate.

So, on the way home, I counted for awhile, and this is what I learned:

The speed limit on the highway on most of my route is 70 miles an hour. I cruised the first two-thirds of the trip at an average of 70 to 75 miles an hour. Of the people who passed me at a rate that indicated speeds of 85 to 90 miles an hour (I sped up to pace three of them for a few minutes), the vast majority were women roughly between the ages of 20 and, roughly, 45. Those in their 20s and 30s seemed to predominate. The speeders regularly tailgated other cars at high speed when they couldn’t immediately pass them – following other cars at distances of only a few feet at speeds of approximately 70 and 80 miles an hour until the other cars were able to pull over.

And, yes, I did some counting. Of 50 extreme speeders in a row that I counted, 38 were women observably in the age category mentioned above. Watching before and after that count, I will swear that the ratio was about the same throughout my trip home.

Of the other twelve in the counted 50, all men, all but two or three were driving full size pickup trucks or SUVs of the Gargantua class. Though it was too much to try to keep an accurate count, women’s vehicles tended to fall into two major categories: SUVs and sporty small sedans.

Just before reaching the metropolitan area, by the way, I ran into a traffic jam. Highway traffic was stop and go for about a mile, with the "go" limited to a top speed of about 10 miles an hour. When I got to the cause of the slowdown, it turned out to be a three-car accident.

Two cars had rear-ended the vehicles ahead of them – a three-car chain pileup. As I went past, I saw that all three of the drivers were women in the 20-40 age category, and I recognized the drivers of cars two and three as being among those who had breezed past me at speeds upward of 85 miles an hour. (They were standing outside their vehicles, and I was going about 5 miles an hour at that point.)

There did not appear to be any injuries. My sympathy was somewhat limited.

I have some theories about why younger women now obviously are the great majority of dangerously aggressive drivers, but I will leave this with just the observation of fact.