Bringing out the caveman in youngsters

Young males have to fight against their natural instincts to become good drivers, a psychiatrist has discovered.

Worldwide, the statistics for male and female accident rates show gender differences, no matter which culture or country they live in.

The report says that, genetically, young men have tendencies toward
aggression, risk-taking and domineering – all good for being the most
successful hunters – as their brains are actually still changing; speed, memory, inhibitory control and risk taking are not fully controlled during adolescence with these processes continuing to develop into adulthood.

Professor Geoffrey Beattie, of Manchester University, said: "Much of the circuitry of the human brain evolved to meet the requirements of societies and cultures very different from our own, those of the hunter gatherer that existed for over 99 per cent of our evolution as a species.

"Our 21st century skulls contain essentially ‘stone-age’ brains, and
this can help to explain the differences between the sexes in terms of
their risk-proneness while driving."

Profesor Beattie’s summary of his research says that levels of deviant
(rule-breaking) behaviour are significantly higher in men than in women. This manifests itself in a greater frequency of violation of traffic regulations, including being less aware of speed limits, traffic controls, the effects of drink-driving or drug-driving all of which can then cause tail-gating or reckless overtaking – which then causes other young male drivers to react badly too.

It is hoped that if governments, insurers and highway planners are all aware of these challenges, that they can find ways to alter male driving habits to make them aware of unsafe or risky manoeuvres, preferably before they have an accident.

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