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Are bad drivers less attractive?


Road rage, texting at the wheel and poor parking can all be a big turn-off to members of the opposite sex, according to researchers. But do you agree?

Angry driver

Bad drivers are considerably less attractive to the opposite sex than their more capable counterparts, a new report has revealed.

Research carried out by the influential Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) claims that poor motoring skills can reduce attractiveness by as much as 50%.

Here comes the science

The IAM says it carried out a scientific experiment – in collaboration with behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings - that shows women in particular view inability behind the wheel as a considerable turn-off.

The experiment involved candidates watching videos of both good and bad driving while being tested for their "level of attraction" towards the motorist in question.

Researchers kept track of subjects’ pulse rate, pupil dilation, blink rate and body language to highlight any changes.

The study found that women were more likely to experience a fall in attraction as a result of witnessing poor driving skills.

Three-point turn-off

Overall, drivers were on average rated for attractiveness as 4.8 out of 10 by women before their driving prowess was revealed.

But in the case of bad drivers, this rate dropped to 2.8, a fall of 80%.

The behaviours that were the biggest passion-killer for women were:

  • Illegal overtaking
  • Road rage
  • Bad parking
  • Texting while driving, and
  • Failure to execute a three-point turn

Men, on the other hand, were less likely to experience a dip in attraction as the result of seeing someone drive poorly: only 28% said this was the case.

Men 'less mature'

Toy car accident

Hemmings said: "There is no doubt that across the board most candidates, and nearly all of the women, found bad driving to be a turn-off.

"However, it’s interesting to look at the reactions of different genders: some male reactions to bad driving included laughter and amusement, indicating that men have a less mature emotional response to bad driving than women who instead furrowed their brows and shook their heads."

The IAM’s study follows up research carried out earlier in the summer by the organisation which found that poor driving behaviour was one of the biggest turn-offs on a first date.

The traits most likely to deter potential suitors were rudeness, poor personal hygiene, lack of sense of humour and being self-obsessed.

'Science behind the theory'

But the IAM found that almost half of people said they would not arrange a second date with someone who displayed road rage or used their phones while driving.

On the other hand, the survey found that 11% of people said that good driving skills were a "top turn-on" on a first date, while 7% said the same about a nice car.

The IAM’s chief executive Sarah Sillars said: "The results from the survey piqued our interest, so we enlisted Jo and a team of scientists to put the science behind the theory.

"Bad driving not only has an impact on the safety of our roads, but can also affect your relationships."

Sillars added: "Being able to manoeuvre properly and drive carefully should be much higher up on people’s priorities."


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