Passing a driving test is not as easy as you might think. Most candidates spend around 40-50 hours in a car with a professional driving instructor prior to taking the practical test. On top of this, they may also spend many hours out on the road with family members, honing their skills and practicing difficult maneuvers.
On the face of it, gender should not make any difference to whether a candidate passes first time or not. Yet it does. Research has indicted that women are more likely to fail their driving test first time, but are more likely to pass their theory test first time. So what are the reasons behind this gender inequality and, more importantly, what are the repercussions?
The Gender Gap
A 17 year old female is 7% less likely to pass her practical driving test first time compared to a 17 year old male. This gap increases as the age of the candidate increases, so by the time we have a 50 year old woman taking her practical driving test, she is 50% less likely to pass first time.
Women are Less Confident on the Road
Experts say this is because men and women cope with the mechanics of learning to drive in different ways. Men are better able at picking up the necessary skills required to drive proficiently, whereas girls take a bit longer. Women are also less confident in their abilities behind the wheel and are less likely to rate their skills highly.
Some would argue that there is a blatant bias going on and examiners are discriminating against female candidates, but the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency vigorously denies such a thing. They say both genders are treated in an identical manner and it comes down to individual performance on the day of the test.
Women are Safer Drivers
So, assuming that this is indeed the case and gender has no influence on practical driving test pass rates, does gender make a difference to driving performance once the candidate has passed their test? Unsurprisingly, yes it does.
Studies show that female drivers have a much better appreciation of risk than men. Young men in particular have no problem learning how to drive a car, but once they have passed the test, they are much more likely to drive in an aggressive manner. As a result, young male drivers are almost twice as likely to be involved in road traffic accidents, many of them catastrophic collision involving other drivers and road users.
Because women are, statistically speaking, safer drivers, insurance companies used to offer cheaper policies to female drivers. They are not allowed to do this anymore, so the only way to prove you are a safe driver is to opt to have a telematics device wired into your car. These devices measure speed, braking force and cornering force, and careful drivers will enjoy lower premiums as a result.
It does not matter whether you are male or female: unless you pass your driving theory test first, you can’t book a practical driving test, so start revising as soon as possible!