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Town designates easy parking spots for women

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Sweetheart, have we got a parking spot for you – with lots of space and good lighting so you don't run into anything.

In a cheeky foray into the perennial debate over which gender drives better, the German town of Triberg is now designating parking spots as male and female. The spots are marked with symbols denoting the two genders (similar to handicapped spots). The women get the easy ones. The men are steered toward the tighter, less convenient spots, with pillars and tight corners, because as Mayor Gallus Strobel says, they are more challenging. "As a rule," he told a local German paper, translated by an article in Euronews, "men are a little better at such challenges."

Now, Mr. Strobel, whose town boasts the world's largest cuckoo clock, is clearly having a little fun, shamelessly acknowledging that the town's "challenge to political correctness" is a publicity stunt. "It should be also an input of humour for our society," he said. "And, of course, a tourist city depends on being famous. Now we have got so many reactions from all over the world which we never thought we'd get."

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But let's review the facts, shall we? The Internet likes to have fun with female drivers doing stupid things. And a 2010 survey suggested that more Canadians think men are better drivers.

Various studies and car insurance rates tell a different story, however, or at least a more nuanced one: Even considering that men log more kilometres than women, they still get into more serious accidents, and die more often on the road. Women have more minor fender benders, and are more likely to be involved in accidents because they were distracted. Men's accidents are more often caused by taking unnecessary risks.

On the parking side of things, other research (and some well-placed surveillance cameras) have determined that women may actually do a better job. For a British study that came out this year, researchers monitored 2,500 drivers in 700 parking lots in Britain for one month. As the Telegraph explains, while women took longer to park, they were more likely to leave their cars in the middle of the spot. According to the article, they proved to be better at finding places and more accurate in lining up the car before backing in. Also, they were more likely to use parking strategies recommended by driving instructors. Men, on the other hand, were more skilled at driving forward into a parking spot, and less likely to fuss over how they were positioned. Overall, the study gave top parking marks to female drivers, though by a small margin.

But perhaps women in Triberg should keep those studies to themselves. Thanks to their mayor, they now have first dibs on what every frustrated driver in a crowded parking lot ultimately seeks: a nice, easy place to stash the car, and get on with life.

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About the Author

Erin Anderssen writes about mental health, social policy and family issues. More

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