Signal, Mirror, Make-Up and Signal, Mirror, Shave

9th July 2010

One in five motorists check their appearance while driving

We're a nation obsessed by our appearance, but vanity seems to be jeopardising our safety on the roads, as motorists swap looking at cars for looking at their reflection in the rear-view mirror.

A tenth of motorists have either applied make-up (7 per cent of women) or had a shave (3 per cent of men) while driving their car, reveals research by Churchill Car Insurance*. Over a fifth (21 per cent) of female motorists admit that they regularly use the rear view mirror to check their appearance while driving.

And it's not just doing a quick hair and make-up check that is causing women to compromise their safety while in the driving seat. A quarter of women (25 per cent) admit to driving while wearing high-heel shoes, which can easily come off or get stuck in the pedals.

Similarly, men also flout safety for style while behind the wheel, as one in twenty men (5 per cent) has changed into different clothes while they were driving.

Worryingly, this appears to be a growing trend, as 7 per cent of Brits keep a spare set of clothes in their car. A further one in twenty women (4 per cent) also store an emergency bag of cosmetics in their car to be able to touch-up their make-up while on the road**.

"There is a time and a place for everything," says motoring journalist Maria McCarthy***. "The time to make the most of your appearance is when you're in front of your bathroom mirror rather than on the road. Being distracted by checking yourself out or preening yourself could easily lead to an accident, which, if it damages property or another car will be expensive or, worse still, could injure another person. Police are increasingly keen to clamp down on careless drivers and losing your licence is never a good look."

Despite bad motoring habits on both sides, nearly four in ten men (37 per cent) think that they are better drivers than women, while nearly a third of women (30 per cent) think the fairer sex are better drivers than men. Only four per cent of men believe that women are better drivers than they are.

Claire Foster, spokesperson for Churchill Car Insurance, added: "Multi-tasking is a trait often associated with women but doing it behind the wheel is extremely hazardous. Women get a lot of bad press for their driving skills, however, men can be dangerously distracted too. Women do have more accidents than men, but men seem to have more serious accidents, causing more damage."

Notes to editors:

  • * Opinium Research carried out an online poll of 2,026 British adults between 7th and 11th May 2010. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.
  • ** Opinium Research carried out an online poll of 2,011 British adults between 30th and 4th August 2009. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.
  • *** Maria McCarthy is a member of The Guild of Motoring Writers and author of "The Girls' Guide to Losing Your L Plates - How to Pass Your Driving Test" and "The Girls' Car Handbook - Everything You Need to Know about Life on the Road", both published by Simon and Schuster. She also lectures in freelance journalism at Bristol University and on the Motoring Journalism course at Cardiff University.

For further information please contact:

Vicky Perry
Churchill Press Office
020 8313 5741
07766 161306


Founded in 1989, Churchill is now one of the UK’s leading providers of general insurance, offering car, home, travel and pet insurance cover over the phone or on-line.

Churchill general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Churchill and U K Insurance Limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Churchill products or get a quote by calling 0300 200300 or visiting