Illegal overtaking and behind the wheel selfies make us less attractive, says IAM

Want to get lucky? Then brush up on your driving technique and manners. After questioning 50 men and women aged between 20 and 30 years, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has determined that bad drivers are 50 per cent less attractive than drivers with good skills. Although the small sample group size means the results must be treated carefully, drivers would be well-advised to avoid the top ‘turn off’ behaviours.

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. The most significant recorded reduction was a drop in attractiveness in women from 4.8 to 2.8, with 84 per cent of candidates reporting more negative feelings towards the driver after experiencing their incompetence on the road. The pulse rate of 60 per cent of female candidates increased whilst watching bad driving manoeuvres, with a 20 per cent increase for a third, indicating a significant rise in stress levels.

Women found aggressive and confrontational manoeuvres the most unappealing – road rage, illegal overtaking and tailgating topped a list of gaffes that provoked the strongest negative reactions.

In contrast, reactions in men were found to be less significant, with just 28 per cent reporting a dislike for the driver after seeing them behind the wheel. For men, body language indicators showed frustration to be the overwhelming response, rather than stress. 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.

Jo Hemmings’ behaviour wrap-up didn’t show the chaps in a particularly good light: “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 five driving behaviours that turn off women

  • Illegal overtaking
  • Road rage
  • Bad parking
  • Texting whilst driving
  • 3 point turn

Top five driving behaviours that turn off men

  • Three point turn
  • Talking selfies at the wheel
  • Texting whilst driving
  • Driving the wrong way round a roundabout
  • Bad parking

The experiment follows independent research by the IAM that suggests bad driving is one of the UK’s biggest first date turn-offs. Road rage was the worst first date faux pas for 46 per cent of Brits, whilst a similar number say texting at the wheel leaves them wanting to end a date then and there. A further 11 per cent are irritated by someone who takes 15 minutes to park, whilst 13 per cent find overly cautious drivers who go under the speed limit off-putting.

“Overall the experiment supports the hypothesis that bad driving elicits strong instinctive responses, with a correlated effect on levels of desire,” Hemmings continued. “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 added: “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.”

The IAM offers singles the change of improving their driving skills – and chances of romance – by signing up for a free IAM driving assessment at

Footage of the experiment can be watched here:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *