Driving test gender gap narrows in Rochdale

The gap between male and female driving test pass rates has narrowed in Rochdale during the coronavirus pandemic, figures suggest.

**PICTURE POSED BY MODEL** A woman driving.

The gap between male and female driving test pass rates has narrowed in Rochdale during the coronavirus pandemic, figures suggest.

The RAC Foundation said it is encouraging to see the gender gap shrinking nationally, but warned "time will tell" if the trend continues as driving test numbers recover following Covid-related disruption.

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Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency data shows that of 732 tests taken by male drivers at Rochdale Test Centre between April and June, 314 were successful – a pass rate of 43%.

Meanwhile, 35% of 651 tests taken by women were passed over this period, giving a gap of eight percentage points.

Figures for this period in 2020 were unavailable for Rochdale, when tests were cancelled due to lockdown restrictions.

Women had a success rate of 25% during the same period in 2019 – compared to 39% for men, meaning there was a gap of 14 percentage points between the genders.

In the first quarter of 2018-19, the gap was 14 percentage points.

Across Great Britain, 49.2% of tests taken by women between April and June were passed – a higher proportion than during any similar period on record, and up from 47.1% in 2020-21 as a whole.

Though the male success rate also rose, the gap between the two genders (4.7 percentage points) is now the closest it has ever been – previously peaking at 7.3 in 2018.

RAC Foundation spokesman Rod Dennis said: “The impact of the pandemic means we’re in unusual times when it comes to driving tests, not least because there’s an enormous backlog of drivers waiting to take tests and get out on the road.

"While it’s encouraging that the gender driving test pass ‘gap’ appears to be closing, only time will tell whether this is a trend that continues as the number of people taking tests starts to return to normal.”

Of the four months of available figures for Rochdale between July and December 2020, women had a pass rate of 35%, while men passed 44% of tests.

The AA said the difference in pass rates between men and women is a long-term trend, but added it is good to see the gap closing slightly.

Edmund King, president of the AA, added: “The pandemic has had an impact on the overall pass rate.

"People who took their test in April to June this year would have been likely to have had their lessons disrupted by the lockdown restrictions of 2020 so may well have taken lessons over a longer period of time than they would have done, had there been no restrictions.

"Many of them would have been in the backlog of people who booked a test, knowing if they failed it may be a long wait before they could re-take it. This could all have had an impact on the small improvement in the pass rate.”

A DVSA spokesman said practical and theory tests are designed to measure a candidate's ability to drive safely and responsibly as well as making sure they know the theory behind safe driving.

He added: "All candidates are assessed to the same standard and the result of their test is entirely dependent on their performance on the day.”