It’s a contentious and controversial argument which has been debated for decades – and will probably still run for several decades more. Perhaps it will never end.
We’re talking about the battle of the sexes behind the wheel – are men better drivers than women, or is it the other way around?
Driving stereotypes are ingrained and hard to shift. Thus, female drivers are often tagged as unable to park properly – especially reversing into a parking space – while male motorists are too often seen as aggressive, fast driving types who would rather turn a one-hour journey into a six-hour trip than simply ask for directions.
But are these truths or myths? And in the ongoing contest of women drivers versus their male counterparts, who are the better drivers?
Recent research seems to favour females. In fact, the Telegraph reported both in 2015 and 2016 that surveys revealed women are the ‘better’ drivers. Tests on motorists while in the car and when approaching London’s busy Hyde Park Corner junction yielded a stronger performance from women, who scored 23.6 points from a maximum of 30. The male drivers monitored managed 19.8 points in comparison.
Some of the results showed clear divides between driving behaviours. For example, 14% of men were witnessed ‘cutting dangerously into traffic’ while only 1% of women were. When it came to ‘driving too close to the vehicle in front’, 27% of men did so; only 4% of women did. And 79% of female drivers were considered to have shown ‘adequate use of mirrors’ compared to just 46% of men. Of course, this isn’t a definitive verdict but an interesting sample study.
Meanwhile, in this article titled 13 driving myths uncovered created by RAC Breakdown cover – data from an NCP survey suggested women were also more skilled at parking than men. It used surveillance on 2,500 drivers across 700 NCP car parks to come to the conclusion that while men were quicker at parking, women were more likely to park cars ‘in the middle of a bay’.
Driving proficiency obviously has a bearing on road safety but also insurance costs. Historically, primarily because male drivers are involved in a higher proportion of road traffic accidents, they were typically charged more for insurance than women. However, an EU ruling in December 2012 prevented insurance companies from discriminating on the basis of gender alone, instead pricing premiums of other data. What happens to that ruling in the wake of the Brexit decision remains to be seen.
What’s interesting is that, according to an article published by the Guardian earlier in 2017, instead of the price gap between men and women narrowing, it has widened. Back in 2012, it says, male drivers paid on average £27 more for an annual car insurance policy. Now, that amount has grown to £101. Despite the ruling, in general terms, women drivers have benefited from insurance pricing. Men are still considered higher risk. Instead, insurers are increasingly using more targeted data and analysing specific factors such as age, driving history and occupation calculate premiums based on the probability of risk.
As an extension of that, telematics – also known as black box – insurance is a way of monitoring driver behaviour and performance, as a means of rewarding safer drivers with lower premiums. It can track braking and acceleration to calculate a driving ‘score’ which could then lead to a reduced price at renewal time.
This means, regardless of whether you’re a man or woman, you have the ability to lower your insurance costs by driving carefully and responsibly – although black box insurance is usually available to younger motorists only.