Driving each other crazy

Article date: 24 November 2011

  • Half of women say partners affect their driving 

Over half (53%) 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 (41%), with one in 10 saying 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 (9%) refuse to let their partner drive their car. Of these:

  • A fifth (20%) say this is because they do not rate their partner’s driving abilities as highly as their own
  • 26% believe their car is too powerful for their partner to drive
  • 16% 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% think their partner is overconfident on the roads while 10% say their partner drives too fast or recklessly. By comparison, 17% of men say they are a better driver than their partner and a further 16% 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% of men claiming to be "the driver" compared with just 10% of women, this does vary depending on the type of journey. Men are more likely to be behind the wheel on longer journeys (78% vs 13%), on motorways (78% vs 15%) and on country roads (74% vs 19%).

Men are also more likely than women to take over driving in bad weather (33% vs 5%).

But women tend to be the main driver when it involves the household or children, such as the school run (48% vs 25%) or to sports clubs and hobbies (48% vs 39%).

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 (34%) of women felt that they were most likely to stay sober and drive home after a night out, compared with a quarter of men (26%). However, there appear to be differing views on whether the role of designated driver is shared, with 18% of men saying they take it in turns to be the designated driver compared with just 12% of women agreeing with this statement.

Heather Smith, Aviva’s director of marketing, 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

  • 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
  • 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
  • Don’t just pick routes that are easy or familiar – take on the role of driver when travelling somewhere new
  • Enlist in an Advanced Driving Course to help to improve confidence, concentration skills, hazard perception and driving ability
  • 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
  • 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. 


If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact:

Aviva press office:
Jenny Chapman       
Telephone: 01603 689894/07800 699668
Email: jenny.a.chapman@aviva.co.uk/

Liz Kennett               
Telephone: 01603 681258/07800 699667
Email: liz.kennett@aviva.co.uk

The Wriglesworth Consultancy:
Louise Weaver/Hugh Murphy    
Telephone: 020 7427 1400
Email: l.weaver@wriglesworth.com

Notes to editors:

* Based on survey of 1,139 people in a relationship, survey carried out by ICM Research between 7-9 October

** Department for Transport statistics: Drivers in reported accidents by gender, number injured, road user type and age, Great Britain, 2010, show 124,958 male drivers involved in motor accidents last year compared to 74,587 female drivers.

About Aviva

Aviva is the world’s sixth largest* insurance group. We provide 44.5 million customers with insurance, savings and investment products with total worldwide sales in 2010 of £47.1 billion**.

We are the UK’s largest insurer with over 14 million customers. Our combination of life, health and general insurance is unique in its scale and breadth in the UK market.  Customers can choose to buy our products through intermediaries, our corporate partners or from Aviva direct and we have become the partner of choice for many of the UK’s biggest organisations. 

We are ranked as one of the UK’s top 10 most valuable brands and Aviva plc are in the top 10% of socially responsible companies globally in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. In 2010 we invested £4.3 million into our communities in the UK, which included 1,500 Aviva volunteers giving 24,000 hours for good causes. In addition, our employees gave £600,000 through fundraising and donating. Read our corporate responsibility report at www.aviva.com/2010cr.

Aviva is working in partnership with Railway Children through the Aviva Street to School programme to get children living or working on UK streets back into everyday life. Find out more at www.aviva.co.uk/street-to-school.

The Aviva media centre at www.aviva.com/media includes company information and a news release archive.

For broadcast-standard video, please visit www.aviva.com/media/video.

Follow us on twitter: www.twitter.com/avivaplc

* based on gross worldwide premiums at 31 December 2010.

** at 31 December 2010.

Back to top