Women catching up on men to close L-test gap
The gap between male and female driving test pass rates has narrowed in Blackpool during the coronavirus pandemic, figures suggest.
The RAC 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.
Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency data shows that of 679 tests taken by male drivers at Blackpool Test Centre between April and June, 371 were successful – a pass rate of 55%.
Meanwhile, 50% of 652 tests taken by women were passed over this period, giving a gap of five percentage points.
Figures for this period in 2020 were unavailable for Blackpool, when tests were cancelled due to lockdown restrictions.
Women had a success rate of 42% during the same period in 2019 – compared to 50% for men, meaning there was a gap of eight percentage points between the genders.
In the first quarter of 2018-19, the gap was 10 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 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 six months of available figures for Blackpool between July and December 2020, women had a pass rate of 44%, while men passed 52% 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.”