Toxic masculinity fuels dangerous driving in French road safety campaign

Men account for eight out of ten road deaths in France, mainly thanks to toxic masculinity behind the wheel, according to this campaign by the French road safety authority.

In a bid not to stigmatise men, the film urges them to resist the societal pressure to take risks, drive fast and dominate the road. There’s not a car in sight — instead we see new dads telling their sons that they don’t have to conform to stereotypes. One says to his baby that he can be “a sensitive man, a man who cries, a man who knows how to show emotion.”

Florence Guillaume, head of the safety agency, said: “We are not out to generalise or stigmatise. We can’t leave this reality at the roadside. It is urgent to liberate men from the social expectation that incites them to associate virility with risk-taking.”

Sociologist Alain Mergier, who did a study of masculinity and driving for the campaign, said: “It’s striking how certain stereotypes are persistently passed from father to son, including the car as a symbolic object of masculinity, male identity and virility. This isn’t given much thought and yet we can see the far-reaching impact on accidents.”

In France, 78% of those killed in road accidents last year in were men, rising to 88% for 18-24 year olds. Men accounted for 93% of drunk drivers and 84% of accidents were caused by men.

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About Emma Hall

Emma Hall is a journalist and editorial consultant and is the former Europe Editor of Ad Age, where she covered European marketing advertising, digital and media stories. She has written for newspapers including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph, and was previously a section editor at Campaign. Emma started her career in New York as a researcher for a biography of Keith Richards.

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