Survey: Women drivers say partner in passenger seat is a safety hazard

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More than half of women admit that having their partner in the car adversely affects their driving, making them feel stressed and nervous, according to new research.*

Men are less likely to be affected by having their partner in the car, although one in ten say they drive more carefully when their partner is in the car with them, according to a survey carried out for the UK’s largest insurer Aviva.

However, the research also shows a similar number of men refuse to let their partner drive their car.

Of these a fifth say this is because they do not rate their partner’s driving abilities as highly as their own, a quarter believe their car is too powerful for their partner to drive and 16 per cent feel their partner suffers from a lack of confidence when driving.

Despite men’s confidence in their own driving abilities, women do have some criticisms – 13 per cent think their partner is overconfident on the roads while 10 per cent say their partner drives too fast or recklessly.

By comparison, 17 per cent of men say they are a better driver than their partner and a further 16 per cent do not think their partner is competent at parking.

While there is general agreement among men and women that the former carry out most of the driving in their relationships, with 43 per cent of men claiming to be ‘the driver’ compared with just 10 per cent of women, this does vary depending on the type of journey.

Men are more likely to be behind the wheel on longer journeys, on motorways and on country roads. Men are also more likely than women to take over driving in bad weather.

But women tend to be the main driver when it involves the household or children, such as the school run or to sports clubs and hobbies.

With the party season about to get underway, Aviva asked who was most likely to be the designated driver on nights out.

More than a third of women felt that they were most likely to stay sober and drive home after a night out, compared with a quarter of men.

However, there appear to be differing views on whether the role of designated driver is shared, with 18 per cent of men saying they take it in turns to be the designated driver compared with just 12 per cent of women agreeing with this statement.

Heather Smith of Aviva said: “While men in relationships might feel more comfortable taking on the majority of driving, it is important that both men and women regularly get behind the wheel to ensure that their skills remain fresh.

“As this research shows, women are less likely to get behind the wheel when in a car with their partner and this has affected their confidence in their abilities, which shouldn’t be the case, particularly as other statistics actually show that women are safer drivers than men as they are involved in fewer accidents.

“Simple measures such as sharing the responsibility for longer or more challenging drives, or considering your partner’s confidence when you are in the car together mean that everyone can get the most out of driving and keep their skills topped up.”

Give your relationship driving skills an MOT

l Regularly take it in turns to get behind the wheel, this is particularly true on long journeys when it is safer for the driving to be shared

l Ensure you are familiar with your partner’s car and practice driving it so that you are able to take control should you need to in the event of an emergency

l Don’t just pick routes that are easy or familiar – take on the role of driver when travelling somewhere new

l Enlist in an Advanced Driving Course to help to improve confidence, concentration skills, hazard perception and driving ability

l Plan ahead – consider the journey you are embarking on and any potential hazards or problems. By pre-empting them you will be more prepared, should they occur

l Support your partner when they are behind the wheel – this might include helping with map reading or even just offering support and boosting their confidence