Twenty-eight per cent of men simply won’t ask for directions

Men declare themselves to be better map-readers than women and are far less likely to ask for directions, according to a survey of over 13,000 Irish motorists carried out by the AA.

“Most of us can get confused or lost from time to time, especially on weekends like this when many of us will be on unfamiliar roads or driving longer distances,” says John Farrell, director of AA Insurance.

While 57 per cent of female motorists on Irish roads believe they have an excellent sense of direction, a further 13.4 per cent have admitted that theirs is frustratingly poor meaning they often have to rely on SatNavs, their passengers and a lot of forward planning when driving to somewhere unfamiliar.

Whether pride or just plain fact, only 4 per cent of the 7,700 male motorists surveyed during the same AA poll classified their sense of direction as chronically bad. At 76.4 per cent, 20 per cent more males than females expressed a belief that they have a natural aptitude for finding their way around and committing new routes to memory.

A map seemingly isn’t much good to some women out there either. Some 9.8 per cent of the 5,400 women polled by the AA said they find map reading quite tricky. However despite the obvious stereotype, the majority of women aren’t so perplexed; 56.8 per cent of the female drivers surveyed described themselves as proficient map readers.

Just 1.8 per cent of the males surveyed said they find using a road atlas difficult. Inversely, 81 per cent said they are very confident in their map reading skills.

“I think it’s safe to say that spatial orientation varies quite a bit from person to person,” says Farrell. “Getting lost or confused can be a huge distraction and even quite dangerous. If you get lost find somewhere safe to pull in, get your bearings and take a deep breath so that you can focus fully on driving when you get back out onto the road.”

The AA also advises motorists to do their homework first and download their route for free via AA Route Planner - the free online tool is available at www.aarouteplanner.ie The AA poll also reveals that directional road signs or indeed lack thereof is a major bugbear for both sexes. A number of respondents ranted that they’d followed a directional sign only to be sent in completely the wrong direction. Others condemned the Irish network of signs as archaic and completely inadequate in comparison to other Western European countries.

Giving credence to another classic gender-based driver stereotype, female drivers emerged as far more likely to stop and ask for directions than men. With 50.6 per cent of the women compared to 31 per cent of the men polled by the AA said they wouldn’t hesitate to roll down their window or stop off to get directions when lost.

As many as 27.6 per cent of men however said they’d be very unlikely to ask a local for directions even if they hadn’t a notion where they were. Just 12.2 per cent of female drivers said the same.

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