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Men lost for longer

20th August 2010 Print

The average male motorist drives an extra 276 miles every year as a result of being lost - the equivalent to a journey from London to Newcastle - compared to women's 256 miles, according to new research.

The study by Sheilas' Wheels car insurance found that over a quarter of men (26 per cent) wait at least half an hour before asking for directions, with a stubborn one in ten (12 per cent) male motorists refusing to ask a stranger for help at all.  Proving that pride comes at a price, this "lost" drive time could be costing men as much as £2,000 in petrol in their lifetime.

According to the research, over a third of motorists (34 per cent) would rather ask a woman than a man for directions (28 per cent).  Perhaps wise given that two out of five men (41 per cent) have pretended they knew where they were going when actually lost - compared to a more trustworthy quarter (26 per cent) of women.

In addition, almost three-quarters of women (74 per cent) have no qualms about asking for directions, with 37 per cent admitting to pulling over as soon as they realise they are lost, compared to just 30 per cent of men.  However, 40 per cent of the men polled said that even if they were to ask a stranger for directions, they wouldn't always trust or follow them.

Jacky Brown at Sheilas' Wheels car insurance commented: "Our research not only reveals that men aren't quite as confident behind the wheel as they make out when it comes to navigation but also that women are in control when it comes to modern motoring.

"Lost miles can add up and become costly so if you're looking to save on petrol (and the pennies) we suggest you plan and prepare your route well in advance - even if you have a sat nav, it's worth having an idea of the journey in your mind so that you don't become a slave to the machine - and end up getting lost!"

Age differences

The research revealed that over 55s actually have the best sense of direction, getting lost just 26 times a year on average - compared to the sat-nav generation (motorists under 25 getting lost on average 37 times a year).  Motorists in their mid-thirties are more likely to stop and ask for directions - taking under 15 minutes to pull over on average, compared to under 25s who take over 22 minutes to ask for help.

Top ten "lost" regions (based on hours motorists are lost per year)

North East (12 hours)
Wales (11.9 hours)
North West (11 hours)
London (10.8 hours)
West Midlands (10.4 hours)
Yorkshire (8.9 hours)
Scotland (8.5 hours)
Northern Ireland (8.1 hours)
South East (8 hours)
South West (7.3 hours)
= East of England (7.3 hours)

Regional differences

Motorists in Northern Ireland are the most likely (58 per cent) to pretend they know where they are - or where they are going - despite being lost.  This is compared to a more honest one in five (22 per cent) of motorists from Yorkshire.  A quarter of Londoners (25 per cent) admit to never pulling over to ask for directions when lost - compared to 28 per cent of Welsh motorists who always pull over to ask for help.