New study shows women are better at parking
AT LAST, GEM can offer the definitive answer to a question that has dogged humanity for decades: who are better at parking – men or women? One stereotype had spawned countless jokes – and became a truth universally acknowledged by men across the land – women were the less proficient gender when it came to parking a car.
But that was wrong, if a new study from NCP is to believed. Because exhaustive tests now show women to be slightly better at parking their cars. The parking of 450 drivers was analysed, using CCTV records. Meanwhile, a further 2,000 drivers completed a survey about their parking habits, in which they were asked questions about their technique, accuracy and time taken to complete parking manoeuvres. This in turn led to the creation of a “parking coefficient” (oh how we love cod science!). Out of a total of 20 possible points, women received an average mark of 13.4, compared with 12.3 for men.
Women were rated higher for using an appropriate speed, having a good “pre-parking pose” to ensure a successful manoeuvre, and a higher percentage of female drivers (53%) finished centrally in their chosen parking space, compared with 25 per cent of men.
Less than three years ago, an equally ‘definitive’ answer offered an entirely different set of results, revealing that female drivers took an average of 20 seconds longer to park their cars but were still less likely to end up in the middle of a parking bay. As part of the test 65 people were asked to park an Audi A6 family saloon in a standard-sized parking space. Their manoeuvres, including head-on, reverse and parallel parking, were timed and rated for accuracy, which was judged by how far they kept the vehicle from the edges of the bay.
While the researchers expected the women volunteers to be slower, they were surprised to find that the cautious approach did not lead to a tidier final result. Dr Claudia Wolf from Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, who led the study, said that the research confirmed previous findings that men have better co-ordination and spatial awareness than women, and take more risks behind the wheel.
So, where does that leave us, apart from scratching our heads? The truth is most likely that we will all do a better job of parking if we’re not rushing or under pressure. Moreover, an improving technique will come – for all of us – with practice.
Here are our top tips for safer, more competent parking:
• Always reverse park, as it makes your subsequent departure much easier and safer
• Always park in a marked bay. Don’t take up two bays, and don’t block someone else’s access
• Don’t park opposite a junction, or within 10 metres of it, unless you’re using an authorised parking space
• Make sure all your mirrors are set to give you the best view as you reverse into a space. Stop and adjust them if necessary.
• Do everything very slowly, especially if space is tight.
• When you return to your car, take a good look around before getting in – just so you’re more aware of possible hazards.