ARCHIVE. A small survey of women drivers in 1968 on the occasion of road safety week in Douai

The Automobile Club du Nord de la France organized a road safety week in May 1968. On this occasion, a journalist from ORTF goes to Douai to do a little investigation on the woman behind the wheel.

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But who is this lady who hangs her umbrella on the handle of the starter and puts the turn signal on the right to turn left? When she’s not putting her make-up kit on the dashboard… According to some, she’s a woman behind the wheel. A strange example of the inability to drive a car.

Moreover, it is awarded with crokinolsk qualifiers: awkward, dangerous, distracting, scary, emotional… In short, the woman behind the wheel is a goddess.

But how could the woman understand this with her light behavior?

Symbols are strong: strength, masculinity, speed, etc. Since the beginning of the 20th century, he has tried to make many images, such as advertisements and manufacturers, painted a portrait of a woman who is clearly lovely, but completely uneducated in terms of driving. Nevertheless, the woman is very receptive to the brave assets of both the car and its driver.

Because yes, the car is also designed to cheat and even in this 21st century. In 2019, Volkswagen presents the T-ROC SUV model as follows:Make sure you are your wife’s lover”.

The car remains a strong symbol of masculinity, but traditions have evolved since the 1960s. Even with progress still to be made, certain attitudes remain unchanged. For example, the French Automobile Club has not yet decided to open its doors to women…

If sexist prejudices die hard, research and statistics are gradually deconstructing this rear guard image. Hence the old adage, particularly retrograde, “Woman at the wheel, death at the bend”which Road Safety works to discredit by wringing the neck of accepted ideas.

Because no, women behind the wheel are not a public menace: they are more respectful than men of the highway code, less likely to take the wheel while drunk, and cause fewer fatal accidents than men. Yes, they might like mechanics! As proof, a car sector that is slowly but surely finally becoming more feminine.

In a more consumerist area, almost half of women today buy their car alone. Manufacturers who try to develop very targeted models for the delicate breed are not mistaken. From pretty godiche to pretty connoisseur, the status change is on the right track!

From the end of the 19th yearc century, some women are passionate about these four-wheelers and shine in a very masculine universe.

They achieved achievements: this incredible journey of 106 km made by Bertha Benz in 1888, the first French woman participation in Paris-Berlin in 1901 with Camille du Gast, Clärenore Stinnes’ round-the-world car tour in 1927. ..

Pioneers, adventurers as well as inventors: heating the hall was Margaret Wilcox in 1893; the rearview mirror is a 1909 Dorothy Levitt, to name but a few.

The Duchess of Uzes was the first woman to receive a capacity permit (the ancestor of the driver’s license) in 1898, but few women have followed in her footsteps.

At that time, the pleasures of driving were reserved only for the wealthiest people, mostly men. One can imagine the difficulty of ladies achieving the thrill of driving, especially if they do not enjoy high social status.

But these pioneers paved the way for the 1960s, during which women took the helm when they broke free.

It would not take until 1976 for the number of permits issued to women to exceed that of men, which would continue into the 2000s.

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