Conti: Male and female drivers zone out differently

A new study commissioned by Continental concludes that male and female drivers zone-out into different worlds when switched to ‘autopilot’ and hope for different benefits from future automotive advances. For example, women drivers are nearly twice as likely as their male counterparts to compile a mental shopping or ‘to do’ list whilst men listen to music, the radio or podcasts.

Eight out of 10 road users admit they sometimes drive on autopilot. The issue is getting worse as the same study in 2009 found 60 per cent failed to concentrate throughout their trip, so in just over six years the amount of people driving on autopilot has increased by a third.

Men are said to be far less worried that being on autopilot impacts their safety, with 41 per cent not bothered if they sometimes tune out – 24 per cent more than with women.

The study of 2,000 drivers determined that women are 57 per cent more likely to be distracted on small side roads – when travelling slower – whilst men are 48 per cent more likely to switch to autopilot when on motorways.

A quarter of all drivers say that being distracted happens as often as one in five journeys – with around one in six men admitting they often cannot remember the entire journey.

Top 5 driving distractions by gender

The top five distractions for men and women that are a risk to road safety are:


  1. Bad weather – 49 per cent
  2. Tiredness – 45 per cent
  3. Noisy child – 36 per cent
  4. Bad mood – 36 per cent
  5. Other drivers / road rage – 34 per cent


  1. Tiredness – 46 per cent
  2. Bad weather – 36 per cent
  3. Noisy child – 32 per cent
  4. Other drivers / road rage – 30 per cent
  5. Bad mood – 27 per cent

Professor John Groeger, driving psychologist at the University of Hull, said: “Driving is a complex task that requires our attention but not necessarily our absolute concentration, as long as everything is happening like we expect it to on the road. Without concentration, reacting to something unexpected may simply take too long for us to respond safely. The sheer monotony of driving can mean maintaining concentration is very difficult and tiring though it is vital that we get it right.”

Men are very positive about future automotive technology as they are 46 per cent more likely to suggest automated driving will increase road safety. Three in ten women are not sure whether such advances will be safer.

When asked about the priorities for development, men were nearly twice as keen as women to see driverless cars on the road, whilst female motorists are 23 per cent more likely to want technology to improve protection for people in the event of a crash.







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