Belfast Telegraph

Friday 11 July 2014

Reverse parking specialist makes case for lady drivers

Women drivers. Don't you just love them. No, honestly. The person I have felt safest with as a front-seat passenger was the woman who bore our three children. She's been driving now for 28 years and for many of those years was driving on a provisional learner's licence.

Her first driving test she failed and the second, when she got around to it two decades later, was to have been under the watchful eye of some 'young one', as she put it, half her age. So she just walked away from it and managed very well for ages with anomalies in the law allowing her to go relatively undetected, and insurance companies, as she drove as a named driver under my policy, only had a 50 quid loading on her as a provisional driver.

It seems that if the insurance companies were to follow the law to the letter, they'd alienate a good proportion of the driving population, so learner drivers are let be. That's in the South it should be said, but I imagine if she'd been driving elsewhere on these islands she would have done just as well. A good, safe driver, with reverse parking her forte, never mine. In fact, reversing is not even among my attributes, something to do with bad peripheral eyesight.

So, as far as I am concerned, there's at least one good woman driver in this world, and a woman who can manage to steer straight and powder her nose at the same time.

But she's not alone if the insurance companies are anything to go by, given that, until this week, most of them discounted their premiums for the 'lady driver', given that she, being a lady, was unlikely to go boy-racing with a bevy of beer in her belly on the motorway at some unearthly hour of the morning.

And statistically the profile stands up. The primary 'victims' (fellow passengers) and 'perpetrators' of road accidents on these islands are male, between the ages of 22 and 35, and are most likely to be putting the foot down, with the help of one substance or other, in the small hours of the morning.

The males who don't fall under the said profile, and they are some, are just plain, bad drivers.

But it seems, in this world of political correctness where all things must not only be equal and above board but be seen to be equal and above board, a court ruling this week, against the backdrop of that ever vigilant watchdog, the EU legislator, has declared that lower insurance premiums for woman drivers is sexist and discriminatory.

In short, women and men should pay the same quote.

Of course, you don't need a qualification in the actuarial profession to know that insurance premiums for we men, the ones actually discriminated against, are not going to come down in line with those charged to women but rather the cost for women drivers is going to rise in keeping with the current cost for men.

Hopefully, though, each case will still be judged against the measure of the no-claims clause and annual premium costs awarded accordingly, so that, with the statistics being what they are, women will still come out having to fork out less, although it may take the individual some years driving before this becomes apparent.

However, the question is begged: if it were discriminatory to charge women less for insurance because they were safer drivers and, by definition, female, then surely it is discriminatory to load the premium for young drivers who fall into the (statistically correct) category of being unsafe drivers and by definition male. Which is the case, as most young male drivers under 25 are heavily weighed against when it comes to insuring their boy-racers.

I only ask before somebody else raises the issue of what seems to be an equally arguable case of discrimination based on age and sex.

The other news this week is that those responsible for legislation on our roads are looking at the possibility of upping the speed limit on motorways to 80mph - it's been 70mph since the mid-Sixties - and taking the speed on byroads and in surburban areas down by, perhaps 10 or 20mph, depending on infrastructure.

This is common sense. As someone who drives the Belfast-Dublin motorway twice a week, I find it irritating to have to idle by at 70mph and down to 60mph on most of the Banbridge to Belfast end of the road.

After all when I get behind the wheels of my souped-up, two-litre, fuel-injected boy-racer, I want to let rip with the testosterone and leave all those safe lady drivers trailing behind.

Powdering their noses.

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