Pass rate suggests men really are better drivers
The state's spending watchdog has confirmed the long-held prejudices of male chauvinists -- men really are better drivers than women.
But the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), John Buckley, perhaps mindful of a backlash from the sisterhood, declines to apply his usual forensic analysis to why men have higher pass rates in the driving test.
The anomaly was uncovered by his office during a review of driver testing in the Road Safety Authority (RSA).
The difference in pass rates between male and female learner drivers internationally was put forward by the RSA as just one of the factors why some Irish driving test centres have significantly higher pass rates than others.
The RSA told the investigating team from the office of the C&AG that age and gender of driving test candidates was one of the factors giving rise to variations which had been discovered in the UK, Canada and Sweden.
"In general, younger candidates had a higher pass rate and males had a higher pass rate than females," the Road Safety Authority revealed.
In his report, Mr Buckley expressed concerns about variations between the pass rates of drivers assessed by RSA testers and those of external contractors who were hired to help clear the backlog of driving test applications.
During their audit, officials discovered that the national average pass rate for RSA testers in 2008 was 49 per cent, compared to 62 per cent for private contractors, who conducted half of the 470,000 driving tests here that year.
Two of the toughest RSA test centres were Finglas and Tallaght in Dublin, which both had a low 39 per cent pass rate. Other difficult places to take the driving test were at centres run by the outside contractor at Tullamore, Co Offaly, and Tralee, Co Kerry, where 51 per cent of learner drivers were successful in their driving test.
The highest average pass rate at an RSA centre was 60 per cent in Clifden, Co Galway, while contractors in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, passed 77 per cent of candidates.