Northern Ireland

'Clear gender gap' in NI driving test pass rates, says DVA

Woman driving Image copyright Getty Images

A "clear gender gap" in favour of men is apparent in driving test pass rates across Northern Ireland, the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) has said.

In 2018-19, the pass rate for men was 8.3 percentage points higher than for women, with every test centre showing the disparity.

This gap has remained relatively consistent over the past decade.

Women, though, are consistently more likely to pass the theory test.

In the 12 months to the end of March, the theory test pass rates were 47.6% for women and 43.8% for men.

If you are a woman planning on doing your driving test in Belfast, the driving odds might be stacked against you.

Driving test pass rate % point difference

Test CentreMaleFemaleOverallMale – Female difference
Armagh61.855.158.3+6.7
Ballymena64.457.160.4+7.2
Belfast (Balmoral)51.843.847.4+8.0
Belfast (Dill Road)56.343.949.2+12.4
Coleraine64.254.158.8+10.2
Cookstown54.5+8.*
Craigavon62.461.361.9+1.2
Downpatrick73.866.870.2+7.0
Enniskillen57.147.752.1+9.4
Larne53.2+7.*
Lisburn69.659.564.2+10.1
Londonderry (Altnagelvin)50.339.744.6+10.6
Londonderry (New Buildings)
Mallusk
Newry61.651.256.3+10.4
Newtownards57.455.756.6+1.7
Omagh66.058.561.1+7.5
OVERALL59.451.155.0+8.3
*Due to low numbers, some pass rates are suppressed. Tests not conducted in Londonderry New Buildings or Mallusk.
Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA)

The Dill Road centre has a 12.4 percentage point pass-rate gap in favour of men, at 56.3% versus 43.9%.

The disparity is smallest in Craigavon, County Armagh, but still edges it in favour of men, with a 1.2% percentage point gap.

But it is not a situation particular to Northern Ireland.

Image copyright Getty Images

The DVA said that there are similar gender gaps in favour of men in Great Britain for both cars and motorcycles, while the higher pass rates for women in the theory test is also replicated.

Philip Robb, a former police driving instructor from Greenisland, County Antrim, who works as a fleet instructor providing lessons to those who must drive for work, said whether you pass or fail the driving test is down to attitude.

"I would find the males would come in a bit more cocky, with the attitude 'I can drive and you can't tell me anything different', but then you can, because they have maybe learnt how to pass a test but not necessarily how to drive," he told BBC News NI.

The DVA said that without a detailed understanding of the profile of candidates presenting for the categories of tests it is difficult to "contextualise why these differences by gender and UK location may occur".

An estimated 75.9% of Northern Ireland's adult population have a full licence for private cars/light vans.

For men, the estimated figure is 79.5%, versus 72.5% for women.

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