Wigan women narrow the gender gap on passed-first-time driving tests

The gap between male and female driving test pass rates has narrowed in Wigan borough 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 413 tests taken by male drivers at Atherton Test Centre between April and June, 236 were successful – a pass rate of 57 per cent.

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Meanwhile, 51 per cent of 406 tests taken by women were passed over this period, giving a gap of six percentage points.

Women have been catching men up during the pandemic as far as first time passes in the driving test are concerned

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

Women had a success rate of 44% during the same period in 2019 – compared to 53 per cent for men, meaning there was a gap of nine percentage points between the genders.

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

Across Great Britain, 49.2 per cent 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 per cent 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.

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“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 five months of available figures for Atherton between July and December 2020, women had a pass rate of 49 per cent, while men passed 55 per cent 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.

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“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.

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