Not just a cliche: Women really are worse at parking says survey
08:10 GMT, 14 March 2012
Women might tell you that the age-old male claim that they can’t park cars is just a cliche.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Unfortunately for the fairer sex, official figures show the teasing is justified.
The Driving Standards Agency has revealed that ladies are twice as likely as men to fail their driving test for terrible reversing.
Spatial awareness: Women are twice as likely as men to fail their driving test for terrible reversing
A total of 40,863 women were failed last year for not controlling their car while reverse parking, compared with 18,798 men.
Overall, there were 942,000 serious or dangerous errors of various sorts by women which left them unable to throw away their L plates and 718,000 by men.
The most common reason for failure by either sex was candidates’ failure to look properly at junctions, with 112,185 women and 88,990 men making this mistake.
Women were also marked down more than men for failing to control their car properly when changing gears and turning.
Men, on the other hand, lived up to their ‘boy racer’ stereotype by failing their tests more than women for speeding, failing to obey signs and traffic lights.
Just over 5 per cent of men failed their test almost as soon as they started by not moving off safely. Women’s struggle to park has prompted several scientific studies.
According to the Driving Standards Agency the most common reason for failure by either sex was candidates' failure to look properly at junctions, with 112,185 women and 88,990 men making this mistake
Researchers at the Ruhr University Bochum, in Germany, who asked 65 volunteers to park a 23,000 Audi, found that women took up to 20 seconds longer.
Some women have blamed the problem on the fact their breasts make it more difficult to turn around while parking.
But other research by University of Warwick psychologist Dr Zachary Estes suggests some well-chosen words of support might be all they need.
His tests showed that a lack of confidence is a factor in women’s tendency to struggle in tasks requiring spatial awareness and that they improved in these activities when their self-belief was given a boost.
Dr Estes said: ‘Our research suggests that by making a woman feel better about herself, she’ll become better at spatial tasks – which in the real world means tasks such as parking the car or reading a map.
‘So a little bit of confidence-boosting may go a long way in a tight parking spot.’
About 1.5 million take the driving test each year. The pass rate has risen to almost 50 per cent, according to the Department for Transport, but the pass rate for men remains 6 per cent higher than for women. Female drivers need an average 52 hours of tuition to pass but men speed through in just 36 hours of lessons.