Who does the driv­ing in your fam­ily?

Hyundai’s lat­est com­mer­cial has at­tracted com­plaints be­cause the man is do­ing the driv­ing. It that sex­ist? Or just sta­tis­ti­cally more likely, asks

The Southland Times - - Motoring -

When you climb into the fam­ily car, who gets be­hind the wheel? Is it in­vari­ably the male – and why? Ladies, if it is your male part­ner who al­ways does the driv­ing, you’re not alone – even in this more en­light­ened age when ev­ery­one is work­ing hard to en­sure the sexes are be­ing treated as equals, it is still the men who dom­i­nate time be­hind the wheel.

In­ter­na­tional re­search shows that when part­ners drive to­gether, men are four times more likely to take the wheel. And other re­search in­di­cates that in nine out of ev­ery 10 house­holds, it is the men who drive.

Why? It’s not as if women are bad drivers – there’s plenty of other re­search out there that sug­gests women are in fact safer drivers than men.

And in al­most ev­ery fam­ily sit­u­a­tion, it is the moth­ers who spend a lot of time be­hind the wheel as they ferry the kids here and there.

But for a fam­ily out­ing or a cou­ple’s trip, the man in­vari­ably takes charge. That’s de­spite the fact that New Zea­land is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some change as to who is ac­tu­ally buy­ing fam­ily-ori­ented ve­hi­cles.

At the re­cent me­dia launch of Hyundai’s new Santa Fe seven-seater SUV, the com­pany pointed out that whereas in 2008 fe­male buy­ers made up just 25 per cent of pur­chases of large SUVs, in 2018 this has grown to 33 per cent.

Ob­vi­ously this is likely be­cause th­ese women are moth­ers, who need the prac­ti­cal­i­ties of ve­hi­cles with seven seats. That will ex­plain why seven-seaters now make up 80 per cent of large SUV sales, com­pared to 66 per cent a decade ago.

But even though change is tak­ing place, it’s still tra­di­tional for the male to get be­hind the wheel.

Ac­tu­ally, the TV ad­ver­tise­ment for the new Santa Fe un­der­lines all of that. It’s a fun ad that sug­gests that thanks to all the com­fort and in­fo­tain­ment fea­tures aboard the Hyundai, the fam­ily at­mos­phere trans­forms from very stress­ful to all sweet­ness and light.

The fi­nal scene shows happy kids in the back, smil­ing par­ents in the front – with the hus­band driv­ing.

Since the ad­ver­tise­ment went to air, Hyundai New Zea­land has re­ceived a com­plaint about that. The com­plainant – a male – has told the com­pany in no un­cer­tain terms that it should have been the wife driv­ing the Santa Fe.

It’s likely the ad­ver­tise­ment’s pro­duc­ers never even thought to con­sider which of the sexes should have been driv­ing, and that un­der­lines the fact that in life and so­ci­ety there are cer­tain habits and tra­di­tions that seem very dif­fi­cult to break.

Just as it seems that it is al­ways the man who cooks on the bar­be­cue, fixes things and mows the lawns, it is al­most in­vari­ably the bloke who drives the fam­ily car.

Is that sex­ism? An af­front to women’s driv­ing abil­i­ties? Or just some­thing that’s al­ways been done and hardly worth wor­ry­ing about?

You choose – but cou­ples, please com­plete any de­bate about who drives and who rides shot­gun be­fore you head off down the road, huh?

It is still tra­di­tional for the male to get be­hind the wheel. Does it mat­ter? And this is a left-hand-drive car, by the way...

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