When you think about the gender stereotypes related to driving, its long been thought that while women tend to be a little ditzy when they drive, men tend to take more risks when they get behind the wheel.
However, based on the latest numbers related to drinking and driving, that stereotype may be coming to an end. Women are becoming much more likely to drink and get behind the wheel of a car than in the past and researchers are scrambling to understand why.
One study shows that drunk driving arrests for women has increased more than 30% over the last decade. In separate study, it was also found that there has been an increase in binge drinking among women as well. More women are drinking large amounts of alcohol so it stands to reason that more women are being arrested for drunk driving.
Of course, some of the reasons people chooses to drink are the same for both men and women. This includes things like anxiety and stress, as well as the peer pressure to drink because “everyone else is doing it”.
However, we need to understand why women are suddenly more likely to drive after drinking than in the past.
One cause for this may be new marketing approaches for alcohol that are now being more directed toward women. In the past, these campaigns were mostly directed toward men.
One study in Texas looked at people who were currently in a treatment program for drunk driving. They found that the women in this group were less likely than men to be married. These women also appear to have employment that was more inconsistent than the men. Another difference is that the women were more likely to have issues with depression or bipolar and they also were more likely to have problems with drugs.
Another study found that women who were arrested for drunk driving were empty nesters who were trying to suddenly deal with an empty home, divorce or parents who were ill. Another trend was women who were recently married and began to increase their alcohol consumption after giving birth.
Men are still more likely than women to drive after they have been drinking, but if the current trends continue, that could change. There are many programs in place now to reduce drunk driving, but those are specifically directed toward men, since historically, that is where the problem has been.
It is still considered “the early days” when discussing women and drunk driving, but it’s clear that additional research is needed. Men and women don’t appear to drink for the same reasons. Before there can really be an outreach program designed to curb drinking and driving among women, we really need to understand more about why they are making that choice.