Expert Blog

Driving your date away

Colour me cynical – not to mention terminally single – but dating is probably best described as a game in which you try to make the other party fall for your idea of you before they realise what you’re really like. By which time it will of course be too late. They’re now living with you or have already changed their Facebook status to ‘in a relationship’.

Unless of course you have already learned what they’re really like.

Which is why cars and first dates don’t make a good combination. You may think you’re impressing your date by picking him or her up in your prized motor. Or you may think that the intimacy of a shared car and your musical tastes might increase your chances of hitting it off, like Peter Kay and Sian Gibson who fall for one anothersharing a car to work and singing along to Kylie. Or maybe you just want them to meet your No.1 friend.

But a new survey suggests that you may be sadly mistaken. Taking your car on a first date probably has the opposite effect to the one intended. To paraphrase Princess Di, it could be ‘a bit crowded’ in there. Particularly if, like most people, you massively overestimate your driving ability. Or, again like most people, have ‘a bit of short fuse’ behind the wheel.

Nearly half of the top ten first date turn-offs happen in the car you pick them up in, according to the survey by theInstitute of Advanced Motorists – and some of them are ranked even more of a turn-off than traditional first datefaux pas, such as ‘bad dress sense’ and ‘sweaty palms’.

‘Road rage’ was snorting and fuming at No.5 (with 46 per cent), ‘texting while driving’ was fiddling dangerously at No.6 (45 per cent), ‘talking on a mobile whilst driving’ was droning loudly and steering erratically at No.7 (44 per cent), while ‘dirty car’ was smearing the No.10 spot (23 per cent).

And don’t think that being extra-careful will impress either: 13 per cent found overly-cautious drivers who dawdle under the speed limit off-putting – unless, I suppose, your date is Hyacinth Bucket. Your lack of spatial awareness may also nobble your chances of scoring: 11 per cent are irritated by someone who takes 15 minutes to park.

Some people are so ungrateful. Especially seeing as you didn’t ask them for petrol money. Or to clean your car.

The point is of course that many of these driving-related flaws are behind-the-wheel examples of other more traditional deterrents. ‘Rudeness’ is at the top of the list of turn-offs (81 per cent) – and road rage is an internal combustion engined form of this. Texting or using a mobile phone while driving are also a form of rudeness – and possibly ‘being self-obsessed’, which comes in at No.4. Likewise, a dirty car could be seen as a form of ‘bad personal hygiene’ which is No.2 (80 per cent) in dating no-nos. Dirty car, dirty upholstery.

Take your car on a first date and you will be judged. Very, very quickly. According to the research, people pick up on your driving skills – or lack of them – within the first 65 seconds of getting in your pride and joy. Which means the rest of the evening could be a very long one.

First impressions count, but first impressions of you behind the wheel count mostly against you, it would appear. The top ten first date turn-ons only included two driving-related issues: ‘good driving skills’ at No.8 (11 per cent) with ‘nice car’ right at the bottom of the list at No.10 (7 per cent). ‘Sense of humour’ was at the top of the list – though don’t expect your date to have much of one when it comes to your driving.

‘Bad driving not only has an impact on the safety of our roads, but can also affect your chances of romance,’ said Sarah Silar, IAM’s chief executive. ‘Being able to manoeuvre properly and drive carefully should be much higher on people’s dating priorities.’

It seems that the IAM, who offer the public assessments and advanced driving courses, want to impress you with their survey – so you will consider going on a date with them, and let them judge you so that others don’t.

Frankly, you could do a lot worse.

For those wishing to hone their motoring skills the IAM offers a driving assessment worth £39 here.


Guest Blogger: Mark Simpson, journalist, writer and broadcaster

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