Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC NEWS
 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
Forum 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

SERVICES 
Monday, 15 October, 2001, 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK
Women drivers: Are they better than men?
The old adage that women drivers are better than men has been "proved" by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The ASA rejected complaints that a poster advertisement making the claim was untrue after Admiral Insurance Services presented evidence to back up the statement.

The ASA accepted statistics that revealed women have fewer accidents and make fewer claims.

The ruling could mean that we have finally found proof to settle the argument over which gender is better on the roads.

But do women drivers really have fewer accidents? Are women are more prone to a prang? Or do macho men behind the wheel make the worst drivers?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction


If the boys could grow up a little they just might be able to get better deals

Jenni, Bristol, England
Good news for females taking up insurance for the first time. After that insurance is loaded according to personal history so if the boys (of all ages) could grow up a little they just might be able to get better deals.
Jenni (full NCB), Bristol, England

Women are only better drivers when they are in the passenger seat.
Stefan P, England

Women are certainly safer drivers; but that is because they take fewer risks: they rarely drink and drive; rarely go above the minimum recommended speed applicable to the road conditions, tyre conditions, visibility etc; and rarely get distracted by a really sexy girl, whilst listening to some blaring music on super car stereo. But are women better drivers? I think not.
Eric, Dominica

Sad to think that there is even a need for this discussion. There are indeed good drivers and poor drivers - what does it matter what sex they are? Haven't we got beyond the "I am Tarzan, you are Jane" phase yet? Political correctness obviously hasn't quite filtered through. I like to think of myself as competent (don't we all?), but that doesn't mean to say that I don't commit faults whilst driving. We all do. Mind you, I don't get much opportunity living in a country where women aren't allowed to drive!
Josephine, Saudi Arabia

Women might make mistakes, but only men seem to make a virtue out them.
Henry Case, UK


There is only one distinction and that is good drivers and bad drivers

Richard, UK
I have seen women on the M25 cutting up as many people as men (in fact one drove from the outside lane across 3 lanes of fast moving traffic and down a slip road) and I have also seen a woman almost mount the pavement because she was yakking on a mobile phone. Once or twice I have been driving at 40mph in an appropriate zone and been overtaken by one. Women aren't better than men. Men aren't better than women. There is only one distinction and that is good drivers and bad drivers and we all fall into at least one of those categories at one point in our driving careers. Let's stop the argument now, eh?
Richard, UK

With men it's a pride 'thing'. Take parking for example. If a woman tries to get into a tricky spot and can't then she's just a typically bad woman driver, but if a man does the same thing, then it's "bad luck mate, that was a tricky space to get into" Just as in the workplace, women have to try twice as hard than men and constantly have to prove themselves.
SF, UK

Women do have lower premiums but they lack the confidence that men seem to have. Although men drive crazy most of the time they appear more confident. But does this make them better drivers? On the whole if it's one or the other then yes, it does.
Rob Dudley, UK

Sure women are better drivers. They've had a lot more practice - driving men to drink, up the wall, round the bend etc.
Ramana, UK

Well. It has finally been proven then. Women are better drivers. I have thought this for some time now. There is just one thing that bothers me though. If, just for the sake of argument, it was the other way around, would the insurance company get away with over-charging women? I seriously doubt it.
Daniel Cochran, England

I've had two accidents in the last two years - both of which I claimed for and both of which were caused by male drivers...
Karen, UK


There is a clear case of gender discrimination

Andy, UK
It all smacks off discrimination to me. There is a clear case of gender discrimination. If they are going to only supply insurance to safe drivers, then I am safe and male. Why should a dangerous female driver get cover and not me? I wouldn't disagree with their claim but how can they get away with their policy, or should we apply it to other areas? For example, I bet statistics prove men are taller than women on average, so perhaps a shop where all the shelves are at seven feet level, and even if you are a short man they can get stuff down for you, but refuse service to women. I don't think women would put up with it.
Andy, UK

Oh dear, the male ego has taken a bashing and is getting in a 'huff'. Facts have been released that women have less accidents than men. This makes them safer on the road. End of story. Men seem to deem the road as theirs and take great offence at the knowledge that women drive better, it's quite comical really. You're not the 'King of the Road', so just live with it.
Carole K, UK

Having narrowly missed being knocked off my motorcycle by both male and female drivers I would say that there is still room for improvement in both.
Peter, Netherlands

At the end of the day I don't think women are any better drivers than men and vice-versa. But I have noticed over the years certain traits among all drivers. Young drivers tail gate and drivers in their 30s and 40s in company cars overtake recklessly. Those in large cars look upon those in smaller cars as a sub-species and the ones who wear hats whilst driving are totally unaware of what is happening around them. Women drivers tend not to let you out of a side turning.
Colin Mackay, UK


Women are much more comfortable at home in the cave, keeping the fire going

Shaun, Teignmouth UK
Women safer than men? Utterly preposterous. Women will never make good drivers because they lack spatial awareness. Since prehistoric times men have been genetically programmed to be aware of their surroundings whilst moving at speed. Failure to do so would mean being eaten by sabre-toothed tigers or the like. This is what makes them superior behind the wheel. Women on the other hand are much more comfortable at home in the cave, keeping the fire going. Having women on the road simply leads to more accidents as they are so unpredictable, and this phenomenon gives the insurance companies the leverage to push up everybody's premiums and increase profits. By appealing to the vanity of women in suggesting they are better drivers they are simply ensuring that their shareholders will benefit from increased payouts.
Shaun, Teignmouth UK

Men who say that women are more comfortable at home in the cave, rather than behind a wheel, should be given raw dinosaur for their tea.
Louise, UK

Bernard, UK, refers to women driving in "less challenging conditions". Presumably he hasn't seen a school run recently. But when it comes to parking, give me a man any day.
Andrew, UK

I don't know about the UK, but women in the USA sure don't drive more cautiously or slower than men. I'm far from being a timid driver, but I can't remember how many times women have screeched by me while talking on a cell phone or, God forbid, putting make-up on at the same time! They also are poor in the art of road etiquette and are often quite ignorant.
Tom, USA

So, "most men" lean on their horn and shout abuse do they? This is as sexist as saying most women go crazy once a month. I have found that the goon who drives six inches from my rear bumper is typically male while the goon who regard pulling into the middle lane of a motorway at 50mph is typically female. I haven't seen the statistics but have to wonder how they would look if all accidents were considered and if the lunatic fringes were removed. I would also like to see how many insurance companies would risk the wrath of the 'cry sexism brigade' if they offered better prices to men.
John B, UK

This not it not the correct answer. It is a driver's habit, for both, men and women. I noticed both using mobile phones while driving and that caused accidents. I am deaf a person and don't use mobiles. I drive very carefully and usually take my hearing dog with me to work. Both men and women speed, that's what I noticed in all those years.
Martin, Scotland


Male drivers seem to have the need to react to female drivers

Tracey, UK
I believe women drivers are more careful than male drivers and so have fewer accidents. I think men are more aggressive drivers who will speed more and take more risks. Male drivers also seem to need to react to female drivers. I'm a female driver of a soft-top sports car and I either get male drivers pulling up along side and trying to talk to me. Often they have no idea of what you look like and I have enjoyed several occasions when they've pulled up, looked across at my car and been greeted by a stare from my 60 year old Mother. They also try to race you away from the lights to prove that they can drive their family Ford better then you can drive a sports car. I suggest, when women drive badly they do so because they are pushed to it by pushy male drivers!!
Tracey, UK

Tracey's point is funny. So if men drive erratically it's due to raging testosterone but if women do the same it's due to intimidation by men? Personally I care little if someone wants go faster or slower than I do but get annoyed by two main groups of drivers. Those that tailgate - especially at speed and in dodgy conditions - and those that dawdle - ie doing 45 in the middle lane of a motorway. In my experience men and women are equally represented in both of my "idiot" categories so I'd have to say there was no meaningful difference between the genders.
Karl Peters, UK

I bet if you look at the actual statistics you will find that insurance premiums for women are cheaper, but it does not mean they have less accidents, for they do have more per capita. However, the accidents are far less serious, resulting in cheaper insurance payouts. Yes, they are safer.
Chris, Germany

The statistics imply that any woman driver is better and safer than any man behind the wheel, but that is simply not true. It may be true on the whole, but not necessarily on a one-on-one basis. I think bad driving is more down to the individual than the result of any gender differences. After all, driving really has little to do with the hormones you are born with.
John McVey, Scotland


With the intimidating behaviour of many male drivers it is not surprising they lack confidence

B Thompson, UK
If better is measured in terms of number of accidents then yes. However they are usually more cautious because they often seem to lack confidence behind the wheel, and this can lead to them driving slowly and being hesitant - to the great annoyance of other drivers. Mind you, with the intimidating behaviour of many male drivers it is not surprising they lack confidence.
B Thompson, UK

I dislike driving, always have done, and I can't imagine our roads getting easier from now on. However, I'd feel substantially safer if the drivers around me were all women. I know this because my missus tells me often enough.
Al, UK

The insurance statistics do not lie, and my observations during my 15000 miles per year support them. I accept that there will always be some exceptions. Young male drivers are the worst, and a disturbing number of them do not lose their dangerous tendencies as they grow older. The "bad women drivers" myth is as false as the "dangerous old drivers" myth. The problem is that both of these groups are highly susceptible to intimidation by bully boy males.
Rodger Edwards (perfect driver), UK


I don't care for which sex is the better driver as long as we all drive carefully and avoid causing accidents

Lou, UK

On the road women are generally more cautious and less aggressive. Men undoubtedly display overtly aggressive behaviour and guard "their" territory more fiercely. I drive around 1000 miles every week and I get to observe driver behaviour in all weathers and traffic volumes. The more traffic around and the worse the weather conditions, the more dangerous most male drivers become because they do not adjust their driving style - hence the number of motorway concertina accidents.
Richard Hough, Manchester, UK

I don't care for which sex is the better driver as long as we all drive carefully and avoid causing accidents.
Lou, UK

Women have less accidents per year which is all the insurance companies are interested in, as they use yearly premiums, but women also drive far less on average than men during a year, and drive less in more challenging conditions (rush hour, motorway etc). Per mile driven men have less accidents, which is surely the real measure of "safety".
Bernard, UK


Personally I prefer to judge each individual on their own merit and not on some demographic of their sex

Mark L, Wales

If the evidence bears it out, then it must be accepted as true. So much for gender stereotypes. I'm sure further research will fail to explode the supposition that men are better cooks than women.
Peter, Netherlands

Women are safer drivers. They drive at lower speeds and thus cause less serious accidents than men, fact. However the question raised was are they better drivers not safer drivers? How many female formula one drivers are there? None. Why is that? Because men are better drivers.Women submit less claims. That is true. Do they give figures on how often women drive away from minor bumps with unattended vehicles? If they could measure actual accidents rather than claims submitted I have a suspicion the statistics would not be quite so favourable. Personally I prefer to judge each individual on their own merit and not on some demographic of their sex.
Mark L, Wales

Yes it is true- at last it has been made official!!Most women drivers do not speed (so much so that they have to slam on their brakes!) , rev their engines, drive nose to tail, shout abuse, lean on their horns, etc,like most men do. For some unknown reason men seem to think that all of the above will get them to their destination quicker. Women are simply more careful when driving and that is a fact. This is the reason why our insurance is lower. Please men make the roads safer for all of us-just calm down and keep your distance!!
Katharine, Scotland

I believe that women are safer than men but we do seem to trust them! If you look at cars with couples or families driving, 8 out of 10 times the man is driving. In my household it is because I can't stand the constant "passenger driver" antics - playing with the radio, pointing out lanes with (supposedly) less traffic or the reminders that it's time to change into another gear. It would be nice to believe that in other cars it's simply because the man's a better driver!
Becky, London, England


Women have less accidents than men - but above all the accidents are less serious.

Jocelyne, France

If better means safer, then yes women are better. Its about attitude, probably due to confidence in one's ability. Women are shown to have significantly more accidents in manouvres and parking. For men it's when they're overtaking and on bends.
Marcus Hastings, UK

Women have less accidents than men - but above all the accidents are less serious. Women drive slower and more carefully. And they drink less when they know they have to drive.
Jocelyne, France

There's plenty of research that shows that in any normally distributed population, men appear at both ends. In other words, the very best drivers are more likely to be men and so are the very worst.
Neil, England

I've never been beaten pulling away from the lights so I think I'm a better driver than most men.
Anne, UK

See also:

31 Mar 98 | UK
Danger of dozy drivers
17 Apr 98 | UK
Women in the fast lane
31 May 01 | South Asia
Taleban ban foreign women drivers
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Links to more Talking Point stories