Want to know if boys or girls are better at driving? Ask their driving instructor

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


• Instructors say men are quicker at learning, but women are more focused

• More women pass their theory test first time, but more men pass the practical

• Once they pass, young men are far more likely to have an accident than women

• Accidents involving young men cost nearly twice as much as those involving young women


If there’s one topic bound to cause men and women to argue, it’s their performance behind the wheel of a car. Now research by Admiral, in conjunction with the Driving Instructors Association (DIA) reveals the differences between men and women drivers begin before they’ve even passed their test and continue after they hit the road. So from being a learner to becoming a qualified driver, who are better, boys or girls? Admiral’s looked at the data and tallied up the scores.


Learning to drive


Admiral and the DIA interviewed driving instructors across the UK about the attitude of men and women when they are learning to drive. Two thirds (67%) of instructors said they think gender has an impact on learning to drive. The overall view is men are quicker at learning to drive, but women are more focused when learning:


Which gender is quicker at learning to drive?

Men - 74%

Women - 26%


Which gender is more focused when learning to drive?

Men - 62%

Women - 38%


When asked about the strengths and weaknesses of male and female learner drivers, the instructors said women listen to instruction, are not competitive and are self aware. Their biggest weaknesses were cited as lack confidence and a tendency to be over-cautious.


The instructors said the strengths for male learners are confidence, coordination and spatial awareness. However, men can perhaps get ahead of themselves behind the wheel with instructors saying men can be over-confident, and don’t listen to instruction.


Carly Brookfield, chief executive of the DIA, said: “Obviously not all men and all women are the same when learning to drive, but the majority of our members we questioned think gender does have an impact on learning to drive. 


“The right level of confidence is important to being a good learner so it’s interesting that over-confidence in men and a lack of confidence in women are highlighted as weaknesses in the genders.”


Score: Men 1 Women 1 


The driving test


Admiral and the DIA next looked at the driving test to see if that could indicate which gender is best. The driving test statistics suggest men are better drivers.


According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), more slightly more women than men pass their theory test first time, but more men than women pass their practical test first time.  Between April 2015 and March 2016, 51% of women passed their theory test first time, compared with 48% of men.


However, the positions were switched for the practical test with 51% of men passing that first time, but only 44% of women doing so. 


Alistair Hargreaves, head of service at Admiral, said: “If you add these percentages together, overall men fared slightly better than women, 99 points to 95. More women also had to sit their test multiple times, with 17,865 women sitting it six times or more, compared with 13,234 men. 


“However that doesn’t necessarily make men better at driving and the real test comes when new drivers have passed their test and get behind the wheel without an instructor.”


Score: Men 3 Women 2


On the road


Admiral looked at its own data to find out how young men and women differ once they pass their test and hit the road. This time the data is pretty unequivocal, young men have more accident claims and more bodily injury claims than young women.


Admiral specifically looked at 17 and 18 year olds, so those who would be driving within two years of passing their test. It found men of that age have 14% more accident claims than women in the same age group.  Compared with all motorists insured by Admiral, young men had 48% more accidents.


For accidents where somebody is injured, the data is even more damning for men, with them having 42% more than young women and a staggering 146% more than all motorists.


Alistair Hargreaves commenting on this said: “All newly qualified drivers are more likely to have an accident in the first couple of years, but young men in particular are at particular risk. Our data shows the average cost of an accident claim involving a young man is 91% more than one involving a young woman. If there is an injury, the man’s accident costs 139% more than the woman’s. 


“When you look at this data and compare it with the comments the driving instructors made about the strengths and weaknesses of male and female learners, too many of the young men are still displaying over-confidence after they’ve passed their test.”


Final score: Men 3 Women 3


Admiral Learner Driver insurance offers the chance for learner drivers to get additional training in a car owned by a friend and family member. It provides specialist cover for 7, 30, 60 or 90 days - so if the learner has an accident, the car owner’s no claims bonus is unaffected. For more information visit Admiral.com/learner-driver-insurance.


For a handy infographic on the research by Admiral and the Driving Instructors Association, and more information on how age impacts learning to drive, visit admiral.com/men-v-women-learners

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