Being a better driver doesn’t make you safer, women tell their partners
Women are four times more likely to concede that their partners are better drivers than they are. But it doesn’t mean they think their ‘other half’ is safer.
Among women motorists, 28% concede that their partner is a better driver - compared to a mere 7% of men. However, that doesn’t stop many of the women riding in the passenger seat with gritted teeth.
Some 37% of female drivers say they are safer behind the wheel than their partners, with only 13% accepting that their partners are safer.
There seems to be some grudging acceptance of that among men as more male drivers are prepared to accept that their partners are safer drivers than they are.
An AA-Populus survey, responded to by 24,739 AA members last month (October 2015), found that men in the North East (5%) are least likely to concede that their partner is the better driver, while those in East Anglia, London and Northern Ireland (8%) are most complimentary.
In contrast, women most likely to consider themselves better drivers than their partners are in Wales (35%), the North West (31%) and Yorkshire/Humberside (30%). Those in the West Midlands (31%) are most inclined to accept their partner is a better driver than them.
In terms of ‘who is safer?’, men in predominantly rural areas (Northern Ireland 33%, Scotland 32%, East Anglia 29%) are most likely to give their partners the nod. Likewise, Welsh women (43%) think they are safest. However, in London and the South East (both 40%), women also strongly believe they are safer drivers than their partners.
The latest edition of the Department for Transport’s Personal Travel survey shows that in 2014, men averaged 411 car trips as a driver and 164 as a passenger while women averaged 357 car trips as a driver (13% less than men) and 246 as a passenger. Historically, though, women are making more car trips as a driver while the trend for men declines.
In road casualty terms, men are almost twice as likely as women to be killed in a casualty road accident and more than one and a half times more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a casualty road accident. That profile is reflected in casualty accidents on built-up roads. However, on roads between town and cities, men have a 2.5% chance of being killed in a casualty accident compared to 1.1% among women. The likelihood of a man involved in a casualty accident being killed or seriously injured on a non-built-up road is 20.6% versus 12.7% for a woman.
Women are still more likely to be in the passenger seat and more likely to think their partner is a better driver despite the trend showing women making more car trips as a driver
Edmund King, AA president
"Women are still more likely to be in the passenger seat and more likely to think their partner is a better driver despite the trend showing women making more car trips as a driver while the trend for men declines. The accident figures still clearly show that males are more likely to be involved in crashes," says Edmund King, the AA’s president.
“You may be a more confident and sharper driver than your partner, more skilful with the controls, reading traffic, manoeuvring and taking opportunities, but it doesn’t mean the person in the seat beside you shares your self-assurance.
“We wanted to find out, not only how partners regard each other’s driving, but whether they differentiate between being a ‘better’ driver and being a ‘safer’ one. And clearly they do – particularly when it comes to men versus women. It may be the cause of arguments or may lead to other car occupants sitting in silence, feeling uneasy or even scared.
The AA would advise that, just occasionally, partners should check with their ‘other half’ whether they are happy with how they are being driven
Edmund King, AA president
“Drivers who are supremely confident in their ability and reflect that in their driving may not be dangerous. Their partners, who have experience of their driving, may have learnt to recognise that. However, they may still not be comfortable with ‘better’ driving and that is where anxiety and strain can creep in. The AA would advise that, just occasionally, partners should check with their ‘other half’ whether they are happy with how they are being driven – rather than forcing them to sit in silence with gritted teeth.
"However good a driver we think we are, we could probably all do with a refresher course. AA Driving School offers individually tailored Drive Confident courses for any qualified driver keen to brush up on their skills – and set their partner’s mind at rest.”
(23 November 2015)