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08 Nov 2019
Jamie Gibbs Jamie Gibbs

Women are safer behind the wheel than men, new data reveals


Couple happy and smiling in a car


Confusion around who the better driver is has been decidedly cleared – and female drivers are in pole position.

 Who drives better – men or women? It's the debate that never seems to go away. Everyone has their opinion on the matter, and confusion rules supreme.

But we've dug into the numbers, and we've found that – almost without exception – women come up trumps every time.

READ MORE: The Gender Gap in 100 Drivers

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Women pay less for car insurance despite EU Directive

The EU Gender Directive says that insurance companies can't use a person's sex when working out how much they pay for their car insurance.

But even with this in force, women have always paid less than men. The car insurance price index (Q3 2019) shows that women pay around £84 less than men for their policies.

So if gender is off the table, why do women still pay so much less?

READ MORE: Car insurance for women – top tips to lower your premium

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Women take longer to get on the road, but are safer once they’re there

Our research – as shown in The Gender Gap in 100 Drivers – looks at differences in statistics for men and women in these areas:

  • Driving test pass rates

  • Motoring offences

  • Car insurance claims

  • Annual mileage

Driving test pass rates

In 2018, 53% of people who took their driving test were female, compared to 47% male. Despite this, more women failed their test than men, making 31% of the pool of candidates, compared to 24% men.

That's 1 – 0 to male drivers.

Motoring offences

But what about once they've torn up their L-Plates? 

Of the more than half a million motoring offences committed in England and Wales in 2018, a staggering 79% of them were committed by men – almost four times as many as for women.

In fact, male drivers outnumber women in most offence categories. The worst offenders see male speeders outnumber women more than 3:1, with twice as many men caught without tax and three times as many without insurance. Worse still, there are five men for every woman caught drink-driving.

Car insurance claims

Another factor that can impact your car insurance premium is your claims history.

Here again we see that men take the lion's share, with 67% of car insurance claims in 2018 being made by men, with only 33% women.

Male drivers also make twice as many theft claims as women, and more than twice as many 'at fault' claims.

What's more, the average claim payout for men in 2018 was £5,577 - £427 more than for women.

What about mileage?

There's a misconception that this is to be expected – after all, men drive more miles than women, so it stands to reason that they'd make more claims.

But there's actually little difference between men and women based on how much they drive.

The average annual mileage for male drivers is 6,874 miles – less than 1% more than women, at 6,807 miles.

So it's safe to say that, although women are less likely to pass their driving test than men, the data shows that women tend to be safer and more responsible drivers, on average.

READ MORE: Your questions about driving and mobile phones - answered 

 Person eating a banana while driving

Bad habits at the wheel

Men are also guiltier of committing driving faux pas than women.

Men are 25% more likely to smoke or vape at the wheel than women, and 33% more likely to drive through a red light.

Rather worryingly, men are also 50% more likely to drive without a seat belt.

There are two driving habits that sees both men and women on an even footing - eating at the wheel, and driving barefoot.

Men v women: Top 10 bad driver habits (percentage of 2,000 drivers polled, even split between men and women)

Habit Women Men
Eating while driving 25% 25%
 Smoking / vaping while driving 13% 17% 
Undertaking 11% 17%
Not indicating 12% 14% 
Skipping a red light 8%  11% 
Driving in bare feet  7%  7% 
Driving without a seat belt  4%  9% 
 Tailgating 5%  8% 
Failing to give way  5%  8% 
Middle lane hogging  6%  7% 

READ MORE: How to drive down the cost of car insurance


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