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The belief that women can’t park is one of the oldest and most hotly debated driving cliches. Ladies around the world may deny it passionately, but figures released by the DSA (Driving Standards Agency) seem to suggest that men are indeed better at reversing. However, are men better drivers overall?

Last year, 40,863 women failed their driving tests for failing to control the vehicle while reverse parking. Only 18,798 men failed for the same thing. A total of 1,660,000 serious or dangerous mistakes were made during driving tests last year, with 56.7% of them made by female learner drivers.

The area of the driving test which trips up both sexes most frequently is junctions. 112,185 women and 88,990 men failed their tests last year for failing to make the proper observations at a junction.

Men are marked down more often than women for aggressive actions like speeding, failing to stop for traffic lights or failing to obey road signs. 5% of men even managed to fail the test within moments by failing to move away safely.

Women, on the other hand, are more often penalised for failing to control the vehicle during turns or gear changes.

The UK driving test currently has an overall pass rate of roughly 50% with pass rates for male learners being 6% higher than those of their female counterparts.

It has been estimated that male learners require about 36 hours of tuition to pass their driving test. In comparison, the average female learner passes after 52 hours of tuition.

These controversial figures come not long after an analysis of surveillance camera footage suggested that although women take longer to park on average, they do a better job of it. Female drivers were observed to leave their cars parked neatly in the middle of a space, compared to the jaunty parking many men prefer.

The reason for the apparent differences between male and female drivers have been the subject of many an argument over the years. Some have blamed vehicle design, suggesting that cars are designed by men for men. Others cite a difference in spatial awareness between the sexes and University of Warwick research suggests that it may be as simple as the sexes displaying differing levels of confidence.

Factors such as the footwear chosen to drive in has even been taken into consideration. Brake, a road safety charity, have recently appealed for drivers not to take to the roads in stilettos, steep wedges, platforms, flip-flops or slippers.

Image via That Hartford Guy.

Last modified: 23rd March 2012