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Why women could be better at driving the cars of the future

Policymakers, vehicle designers and manufacturers may need to consider gender differences when producing cars.

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Car interior with digital screen on blurry bokeh background. Double exposure
(Golden Dayz via Shutterstock)

By Pol Allingham via SWNS

Women are much better drivers of partially self-driving cars than men, according to a new study from the UK.

Researchers found that females have quicker reaction times and more stable steering skills.

The cars drive themselves unless there's no signal or poor road signs and markings in which case it prompts the driver to grab the wheel.

Researchers at Newcastle University, England, put men and women in a level 3 automated vehicle (L3 AV) simulator.

They found gender "significantly" affects takeover performance, with women doing far fewer hasty takeovers, having slightly faster reaction times, and more stable wheel operation.

In the study, published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, 43 male and 33 female drivers were tested on the quality and timing of their reactions when retaking control of the vehicles in different weather conditions.

The paper says policymakers, vehicle designers and manufacturers should take gender into account when producing cars, to improve interactions between humans and machines.

Car producers should also think about what kit different genders might want in their cars for when they’re not having to drive.

Hands-on teaching sessions could also be provided to deepen drivers’ understanding and confidence when taking manual control of the wheel, according to the researchers.

Study lead author Dr. Shuo Li, of Newcastle University’s School of Engineering, said: “Our research strengthens the importance of tackling inequality in the context of future mobility.

“To create user-friendly automated vehicles, the manufacturers and designers need to adopt inclusive practices which fully consider the needs, requirements, performance, and preferences of end-users from different demographic groups.

“The next step, follow-up research is planned to explore gender differences in the needs and requirements associated with non-driving related tasks in Level 3 automated vehicles and investigate the effect of performing these tasks on end-users' behavior and performance.”

Co-author, Professor Phil Blythe added: “This research is part of a wider program of work which is helping us understand the issue and challenges of designing automated vehicles in a way that end users will be able to understand and use safely.”

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