Testing times: more men (52%) than women (46%) passed their driving test so far this year

CONVENTION says that women are not only safer, but better, drivers than their male counterparts.

When it comes to passing the driving test however, the truth – as so often is the case– is exactly the opposite, with men significantly more likely to succeed in getting their licence.

Of the thousands of male and female drivers that have taken their test since the beginning of the year, 52% of male applicants passed with flying colours.

However, during the same period, Irish women were successful only 46% of the time, a significant downward swing of 6%.

The figures provided by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) also show wild swings in success rates, not necessarily between men and women, but according to where the person is tested.

Females for instance could be well advised to avoid three separate centres, where their chances of passing are just one in three.

The centres with the worst records at least as far as women were concerned were Carlow (68% failure rate), Finglas in Dublin (66%) and Naas in Co Kildare (66%).

To try and guarantee success, they would be far better advised sitting a test at a centre where the tables were completely turned and they had an almost 70%chance of success.

The best place for women to try and get their licence appeared from the official RSA figures to be Skibbereen in Cork (70% success rate), Buncrana in Co Donegal (69%) and Tuam in Co Galway (67%).

Men were a virtual shoo-in for passing at certain testing centres where three in four drivers succeeded in the daunting exam.

The best centres for a high success rate were Ennis in Co Clare (73%), Clifden in Co Galway (75%) and Sligo (76%).

The three places where men were most likely to fail however were Carlow (59 % fail rate), Raheny in the capital (62%) and the Dublin suburb of Rathgar (63%).

The Road Safety Authority said it was very difficult to determine patterns from the success rates and that they can be highly changeable.

They said: "We do not have a specific comment on pass rates by gender. Some centres have very low numbers of applicants in 2010 hence it is difficult to make meaningful comparisons across centres."

A number of driving instructors said there could be several reasons for the figures, which appeared to show men were by and large better at the test.

One said: "There are a number of possible explanations. Young men tend to be more confident for a start and are less likely to get rattled during the test.

"The problems really start for young male drivers when they get out on the open road when there is nobody watching them. They do not tend to be as careful then."

Massive disparities have also been recorded in different counties in Ireland with success rates doubling in some testing centres.

According to recent figures, the worst place in Ireland to do your test – whether a man or a woman – is Rathgar in Dublin, where the pass rate is just 30.6%.

At the other end of the scale, drivers doing their test at the centre in Sligo have a 67.1% chance of succeeding.

The chief executive of the RSA Noel Brett said some variation is inevitable and that passing a test in rush hour in Dublin would always be more difficult than in other more rural locations.

"If you do your test in a very busy urban setting, it will expose your faults," he said. "If you do it in a quieter setting, you may not encounter the same obstacles."