IAM RoadSmart, a charity dedicated to reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured on the roads, is involved in lobbying for improvements in road safety standards and leading the road safety debate with central government and within the motoring community. IAM RoadSmart is an advocate for lifelong personal development of driving and riding skills.
IAM RoadSmart analyses multiple issues and viewpoints when considering ways to improve road safety, not least those of its, 92,000 members. Human factors are one of these – how the driver (or rider) interacts with the journey, the vehicle and the external world – as highlighted by the 2016 government report on road casualties: “All accidents have a cause and that cause is often someone making a mistake or exhibiting dangerous or thoughtless road behaviour”.
The 2017 IAM RoadSmart Safety Culture Index, a study of UK motorists’ attitudes towards driving. The report highlighted that the main areas of concern amongst motorists (who took part in the survey), included: Using a mobile phone whilst driving, aggressive driving and drug driving.
Whilst the UK has seen massive reductions in the number of people killed and seriously injured on the roads over the decades, that figure has plateaued at just over 1,700 in recent years (reported road fatalities were 1,792 in 2016, 1,732 in 2015, 1,775 in 2014 and 1,713 in 2013. Reported serious injuries were 24,101 in 2016, 22,137 in 2015, 22,801 in 2014 and 21,657 in 2013).
Added to this, we are less than two decades away from driverless cars becoming popular on our roads. An important area of consideration is how driverless cars will exist on the roads alongside conventionally driven vehicles. What is certain is that the debate will not disappear as technology plays a bigger role in our motoring lives, and IAM RoadSmart will continue to play a central role in it.
IAM RoadSmart’s director of policy and research, Neil Greig, said: “Five years of flat lining road deaths is unacceptable. The huge gains in road safety made in the past now seem a distant memory. The government must show more leadership to really drive down road deaths in the future.”
Bad driving significantly reduces levels of attractiveness in potential partners, with women finding it particularly off-putting, found the first ever scientific study into driving skills and desirability conducted by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).
Finally answering the long-debated question about whether poor driving skills put a dampener on romance, the experiment found bad drivers to be 50% less attractive than motorists with good skills.
The IAM teamed up with prominent behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings for the study. Candidates were shown videos of both good and bad driving whilst being tested for their levels of attraction towards the driver using pulse rate, pupil dilation, blink rate and body language.
Attractiveness dropped from 4.8 to 2.8 in women proving the most significant reduction, with 84% of candidates reporting more negative feelings towards the driver after experiencing their incompetence on the road.
The pulse rate of 60% of female candidates increased whilst watching bad driving manoeuvres, with a 20% increase for a third indicating a significant rise in stress levels.
And it’s the aggressive and confrontational manoeuvres that were found to be most unattractive to women – with road rage, illegal overtaking and tailgating topping a list of gaffes that provoke the strongest negative reactions.
In contrast, reactions in men were found to be less significant, with just over a quarter (28%) reporting a dislike for the driver after seeing them behind the wheel.
Body language indicators showed that for men, instead of stress, frustration was the overwhelming response. Candidates were found to frown, become agitated and shift position as they watched videos of parking, turning the car around or other examples of distracted or preoccupied behaviours.
Behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings explains: “There is no doubt that across the board most candidates, and nearly all of the women, found bad driving to be a turn-off. However, it’s interesting to look at the reactions of different genders. Some male reactions to bad driving included laughter and amusement, indicating that men have a less mature emotional response to bad driving than women who instead furrowed their brows and shook their heads.”
Top 5 driving behaviours that turn off women
Top five driving behaviours that turn off men
The experiment follows independent research by the IAM which uncovered bad driving as one of the UK’s biggest first date turn-offs. Road rage was the worst first-date faux pas for almost half (46%) of Brits, whilst a similar number say texting at the wheel leaves them wanting to end a date then and there.
A further one in 10 (11%) are irritated by someone who takes 15 minutes to park, whilst an eighth of Brits (13%) find overly cautious drivers who go under the speed limit off-putting.
Jo Hemmings continued: “Overall the experiment supports the hypothesis that bad driving elicits strong instinctive responses, with a correlated effect on levels of desire. However, it's evident that women have a stronger negative reaction to bad driving than men, and find bad drivers considerably less attractive as a result.”
The IAM’s chief executive, Sarah Sillars said: “The results from the survey piqued our interest, so we enlisted Jo and a team of scientists to put the science behind the theory. Bad driving not only has an impact on the safety of our roads, but can also affect your relationships. Being able to manoeuvre properly and drive carefully should be much higher up on people’s priorities.”
Singles can improve their driving skills – and chances of romance – by signing up for a free IAM driving assessment worth £39 at iam.org.uk/lovedriving. See if you can improve your ‘pulling’ power today.