Stereotyped views on driving have been shaken after new research that finds women are more efficient parkers than men. The experiment, conducted by UK’s National Car Parks, showed that women’s spatial awareness has been underrated, or perhaps that males’ spatial awareness has been overrated.
Rated by technique, accuracy and time taken, women got an overall score of 13.4 out of 20, beating the mens’ score of 12.3 out of 20. The women took longer to park on average at 21 seconds, compared with men at 16 seconds.
But women scored higher in finding a space, positioning the car centrally and choosing to reverse into the space, which is a preferred method with driving instructors. The study found that men often overlooked open parking spaces, although they were found to be more confident in driving and better at driving forward into spaces.
Men were happier with the position of the cars once in the space, as opposed to women who spent a little longer repositioning the car to centralize and perfect the positioning. Statistically half of the women in the study parked on center in the space, with only a quarter of men parking centrally.
The study, which is one of the most comprehensive ever done on the differences of gender in driving, was conducted by looking at CCTV footage of 453 drivers parking across the country, and further research carried out with 2,000 drivers. Every aspect of the individuals’ parking was graded and added to a finalized tally chart, creating a parking score for the two sexes.
Neil Beeson, a driving instructor who designed the scoring system, said he was “shocked” by the results ”because in my experience men have always been the best learners and usually performed better in lessons. However it’s possible that women have retained the information better. The results also appear to dispel the myth that men have better spatial awareness than women.”
Not everyone is buying the results. James May, a presenter on the popular TV program “Top Gear,” insists that parking centrally in the space is not the best way to judge the efficiency of a parker, especially if a neighboring car was parked too close to the dividing lines.
“You have to take into consideration the cars parked next to you – you ought to be judged on how central you are to them,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “I don’t care what gender the person is next to me, I just don’t want them to bang their door on my Porsche.”
Others have pointed out that the study does not take into consideration parallel parking, which as any new driver can attest, is one of the toughest maneuvers.
Jo Cooper, NCP chief executive said: “Parking is our business, so we carried out the research to see how well people park their cars. As an interesting bi-product of the research, we’ve also found out that there is a difference in parking skills between the sexes, although perhaps not in the way most people expected.”