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A recent survey* of 2,000 Brits revealed that they feel twice as confident in their Dad’s driving abilities than their Mum’s – with 17 percent trusting their Dad to drive them around versus only 8 percent preferring their Mum behind the wheel. Is this indicative of the wider social stereotype that men are better drivers than women drivers? Perhaps it’s simply that female  drivers are held to an unfair standard when it comes to driving… especially by their kids.

  • 98 percent of British men claim to be ‘confident’ drivers.
  • Over a third (36 percent) of Brits have asked their Dad for a lift late at night in the past year.
  • 49 percent of learner drivers prefer to practise driving with their Dad.

We’ll delve into the implications of the survey data* below, to explore why the label of ‘bad driver’ is so often gendered.

Which Parent Do Brits Prefer to Ask for Lifts From?

Many of us will remember being chauffeured throughout childhood and beyond – from asking our parents ‘are we nearly there yet?’ five minutes into the big summer holiday drive, to the more mundane school run. But as we ‘age out’ of relying entirely on our parents to transport us around – once we’re old enough to navigate public transport solo, or our older mates have begun to pass their driving tests – often the most common travel we undertake with our parents is that of the late-night lift. 

Essentially, once you’re legally allowed to partake in British pub culture, your parent’s taxi service really comes into its own when the long walk home following last orders doesn’t look all that appealing. 

Our survey found that a fifth (20 percent) of respondents said they’ve asked their Dad for a lift at least 5 times so far this year – and over a third (36 percent) have asked their Dad for a lift late at night. Of those in need of a late-night lift, the majority were female – reinforcing that women travelling after dark feel greater concern for their safety than men do – preferring to pester their Dad for a lift than walk or opt for public transport. 

Surprisingly, almost a fifth of 35 – 44 year olds (24 percent) have asked their Dad for between 2 – 5 lifts in the last year – suggesting that a parent’s job is never over. 35 percent of respondents (parents themselves) admitted to asking their own Dad for a lift up to 5 times in the last year alone – proving that Dad’s taxi service is a family business, through and through…or that Brits never really grow up. We’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

Which Parent Do Learners Prefer to Practise With?

Our survey found that as well as preferring to ask Dad for a lift, Brits also prefer to have their Dad supervise them as a learner driver. Almost half (49 percent) of learners opted to have their dad accompany them on driving practice sessions, compared to only 21 percent choosing their Mum as an instructor. Does this mean young drivers find their Dads are calmer when it comes to teaching them to drive, or that they simply can’t face having their skills critiqued by their mums when still learning? 

Interestingly, we do know from our own internal data that those taking out temporary learner insurance are far more likely to be male (79 percent) than female (21 percent), so could it just mean that men prefer having practice sessions outside of their lessons, and for them they choose Dad?

Preferred Passengers: Mums Vs. Dads

Whilst Brits might prefer Dad’s taxis for lifts – when it comes to which parent we prefer to ferry around, our survey reveals Mum is the preferred passenger, with only 7 percent claiming to feel confident driving their Dad around. 

This might correlate with the fact that we know dads are the preferred driving supervisor for learners. Would you still want to drive your instructor around after you’ve passed? Probably not.

Who Are the Most Confident Drivers?

We asked our Founder and Managing Director Andy Moody about driving stereotypes. He said: “Our survey found that three times more women than men claim that they’re ‘not confident’ in their driving ability. Combine that with the fact that there’s such a disparity between the confidence we feel in the driving of our Dads versus our Mums and it certainly looks like some outdated attitudes towards gender and motoring – namely, the sexist idea that men are better drivers than women still prevails. Could it be that these stereotypes in turn are damaging the confidence of female drivers on the roads today?”

Are Women Safer Drivers?

Examining our internal data, we found that women are 15 percent less likely to be involved in a road accident than men are – including both learners and fully licensed drivers – suggesting women are actually significantly safer drivers than their male counterparts, despite feeling less than confident behind the wheel – and often being perceived as the worse drivers.

Whilst Dads might be the go-to when your local cabbie isn’t picking up, there’s nothing to suggest Mums aren’t just as reliable behind the wheel. Survey respondents saying they prefer their Mums to their Dads as passengers might actually reinforce the idea that Mums are more conscientious road users, able to impart their wisdom from the passenger seat more effectively than Dads – even if you think he’s the better driver.

*The research was conducted by Censuswide, sampling 2,052 drivers aged 17+ in the UK. The data was collected between 14.05.2024 – 20.05.2024. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles and are members of The British Polling Council.

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