Ever since the motor car became readily available to all, an argument has existed between men and women about which sex is more competent behind the wheel. From this raging argument came the stereotype that women were much worse drivers than men, a generalisation which is quite rightly seen as sexist. A number of new surveys have revealed conclusive proof that one sex is much more superior at the wheel than another… well sort of!
The Driving Test
Recent government figures from the DVSA have shown that there is a massive difference in the standard of driving between men and women at the driving test stage. The statistics show that a 17-year-old girl is seven per cent less likely to pass her test first time than a boy of the same age. This initially seems like a very slender, and almost pointless figure to argue over, that is until you assess how the figure changes with age.
Comparing men and women pass rates at the age of 20 the figure jumps up to 15% in the favour of men, for 35-year olds it rises to 41 per cent and at the age of 50 is a staggering 50 percent. This makes for pretty conclusive proof in the early stages of driving that men are somewhat more competent.
The AA Survey
Moving away from driving tests and onto those who have experience, the AA took a survey asking their drivers whether they thought their other half was a better driver than them. 28 per cent of women admitted that their boyfriend/ husband was, in fact, a better driver, whilst only 7 per cent of men conceded their driving pride. At this stage the gender debate looks pretty conclusive that men are superior behind the wheel, however, other figures show something altogether different.
The Privilege Test
Insurance company Privilege Insurance conducted a survey asking women if they thought they were better drivers than men, with results showing that only 28 per cent did. Only 13 per cent of men agreed that women were better than men. This initial survey shows no dissimilar returns to the AA survey, however, this was soon flipped on its head.
Privilege then took a sample of 50 drivers who faced in-car assessments judged on things such as an adequate use of mirrors, driving to close to the vehicle in front and appropriate speed for situations. On top of this 200 more drivers were assessed on how they coped when driving what is considered a difficult junction, Hyde Park Corner in London. The results of this really threw the cats amongst the pigeons.
These result overwhelmingly proved that women were better drivers than women, despite what they themselves believed. Women scored an average of 23.6 points out of 30 while men picked up an average of just 19.8. As individual results from the test showed, just four per cent of women tailgated the vehicle in front, while 27 per cent of men did. Another showed that only one per cent of female drivers cut into traffic dangerously, while 14 per cent of men did.
Despite there being conclusive evidence for either gender, yet again we are left in a driving limbo as to the real answer. The evidence suggests that men pick up the skill of driving quicker, however, it is women that become more stable behind the wheel as their experience grows.