Dads’ Driving Takes Pole Position

Kids settle age-old argument by naming Dads as the best drivers…
but ‘Mums’ the word for fun in the car!

  • Dads voted best drivers, but mums are the most fun car companions
  • Parents worst driving habits exposed as: ‘bad music’ ‘loud singing’ and ‘shouting at other drivers’
  • ‘Eating sweets’ named as kids’ favourite thing about car journeys
  • 22% believe the UK is ‘a billion miles’ in length

The age-old dispute over which gender is better behind the wheel has finally been settled by those with first-hand experience of both sides: the kids.

In an RAC survey of 1,000 children aged five to seven (carried out by Dubit*), over half of kids said that Dad was the better driver out of their parents.  Mums also took second place when it came to parking the family car, with 58% of kids citing their fathers as the better parker, compared to just 36% who backed their Mum.

However, when it came to having fun in the car there was one clear winner, with Mums comfortably beating Dads by almost two to one as the best car companions. And whilst grandma and grandpa finished last on the list of driving prowess, their house was a favourite destination: 21% of children said driving to see their grandparents was their favourite car journey.
The kids then went on to dish the dirt about their parents’ most annoying habits behind the wheel. While they proved relatively tolerant to ‘speeding’, ‘ honking the horn’ and the use of ‘rude words’, 43% moaned about their parents’ bad taste in music, 34% were driven crazy by their off-key and out-of-tune singing, and 21% cringed at their embarrassing habit of shouting at other drivers. The results also showed that mums were 20% more likely to be guilty of bad language than dads.

When it came to in-car entertainment the rise in popularity of technology became clear, with 32% of kids enjoying DVDs and playing on iPhones and iPads. And although playing games with their family and visiting service stations proved popular choices, the opportunity to eat plenty of sweets was selected as the best thing about a trip in the car.

The research was commissioned by the RAC to mark the unveiling of the breakdown expert’s latest TV advert, which depicts two young children fixing a toy car. The ad is seen as a departure from the scenes normally favoured by breakdown companies, ditching the traditional ‘fear factor’ approach in favour of a warmer, more positive message aimed squarely at a family audience.

RAC chief marketing officer John Orriss says: “Having focused on children in our latest advert we wanted to find out a bit more about their experiences of motoring, and now we’ve established once-and-for-all who kids really want in the driver’s seat! We all have fond memories of family car journeys as children, and long drives are actually a great opportunity for families to spend time together. As the motorist’s champion, we want to make sure fewer families are left stranded on their driveways this winter, so we’re offering free ‘At Home’ cover to all new members.”

Although not shy to give their views on their parents’ driving, the kids quizzed still had plenty to brush up on before taking their own driving tests. When tested on the meaning of common symbols on a car’s dashboard, answers given included ‘ninjas’, ‘aliens’ and ‘a rollercoaster’.

The research also shed light on why ‘are we nearly there yet?’ is the favoured refrain of generations of young passengers. When asked the length of Great Britain, more than one in five (22%) answered a billion miles, while a further 24% believed the UK to measure 27,000 miles, showing that the youngsters’ concept of distance leaves plenty to be desired.

Top descriptions of car symbols given by 5-7 year olds:

Symbol Kids funniest answers
airbag symbol

‘a rollercoaster’
‘a snail’
‘a pregnant lady’

(24% of children correctly identified this symbol)

petrol pump symbol

‘a gas mask’
‘the car needs a drink’

(91% of children correctly identified this symbol)

seatbelt symbol

‘a ninja’
‘a magician’

(89% of children correctly identified this symbol)

temperture symbol

‘a boat’
‘a lighthouse’
‘a lollipop’

(28% of children correctly identified this symbol)

– Ends –

If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact:

Jodie Simpson / Ollie Edwards: 020 7592 1200 /
Simon Williams: 0161 452 4242 / 07725 822107 /

Notes to Editors

Research of 1059 5-7 year-olds across the UK conducted in October 2012 by Dubit, the leading independent youth research agency.

About RAC

With around seven million customers, RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organisations, providing services for both private and business motorists. Whether it's roadside assistance, insurance, vehicle inspections and checks, legal services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information – RAC is able to meet drivers’ needs.

RAC is committed to providing the very highest levels of service to its customers and ranked first for customer satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates' UK Roadside Assistance Study 2006 to 2009. RAC was also the top-named breakdown organisation in the July 2009, January 2010, July 2010 and July 2011 half-yearly UK Customer Satisfaction Index from the Institute of Customer Service.

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