NEW government figures have finally settled an argument as old as motoring itself – are men or women the best drivers?
According to the statistics from the DVLA, women are the better drivers by far because they currently hold just 28% of the penalty points currently on UK licences.
Of the 10.6 million penalty points on licences on March 10 this year, no fewer than 7.7 million – 72% – were held by men.
Even taking into account the fact men make up 54% of the UK’s 40m drivers, the difference has shocked motoring experts.
The figures were released following a Freedom of Information request to the DVLA.
They disclosed that there are currently 40,361,967 license holders in Great Britain, of whom 21,819,606 (54%) are men and 18,542,361 (46%) women.
But when it comes to the 10,600, 617 penalty points, men hold 7,668,498 while women hold just 2,932,119.
The DVLA also provided a detailed breakdown of the gender split for individual offences over the past two years.
Of the 1,840 drink-driving offences, 84% (1543) involved men.
The 1,703,079 incidents where points were given for speeding on a public road, 31% involved women and 69% men.
Men were guilty of 78% of recorded offences involving speeding on a motorway.
Even sexist assumptions about women’s fondness for chatting are confounded by the figures for using a mobile phone where men hold 82% of the recorded offences.
One of the most male-dominated offences – at 93% – is exceeding a goods vehicle speed limit.
Women are ahead of men in just three areas, aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring failing to give particulars or to report an accident within 24 hours, aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring driving while disqualified by order of court, and undefined contravention of pedestrian crossing regulations.
Combined, these make up just 16 offences in total, and women committed 12 of them.
An AA Spokesman said: “Men are more likely to be risk takers or put themselves or others in a situation where they are more likely to be put at risk.
“Official road checks have observed men being 30% more likely to be using a hand-held mobile phone than women.
“This compares to them being four times more likely to get caught and given penalty points.
“This indicates that there is a certain type of driver, both male and almost as likely female, that thinks that driving while using a hand-held mobile phone is acceptable.
“However, perhaps after an accident or other bad behaviour behind the wheel, dangerous mobile phone use is more likely to be found out and prosecuted.
“It is a warning to both sexes not to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving in the first place.”
Steve Horton, Director of Communications at Road Safety GB said:
“What the data doesn’t indicate is the levels of mileage travelled by men and women and that could in some part indicate that men do more driving and hence have opportunity for more offences.
“It might also indicate that the police are more effective at targeting male drivers for certain offences.
“Of course offence levels aren’t necessarily an accurate illustration of perpetrator levels, just those detected.
“Many behaviours could be displayed by both men and women, like using a mobile phone. But for a variety of reasons more men may be detected doing it.
“In Britain men account for around 74% road traffic deaths and 70% of serious injuries, so there appears to be some link with men committing most offences and the fact mostly men are seriously injured in road crashes.
“This data confirms that road safety professionals are right to maintain a strong interest in influencing male driver behaviour, although they shouldn’t ignore the need to remind all drivers of certain important messages.”
The Department of Transport declined to comment, referring enquiries back to the DVLA who said they could not comment because they only keep records.