Are left-handers better drivers?

Press release from The AA

AA Driving school reveals Left-Handers are best drivers in UK

Left-handers ten per cent more likely to pass their driving test first time

When it comes to driving, left-handers have a natural advantage according to the AA Driving School. A study commissioned by the school indicates that being left-handed makes for a smoother driving test. According to the findings, almost six out of ten (57%) left-handers passed their driving test first time, making them 10 per cent more likely than right-handers to pass at the first attempt.

The news comes as millions of left-handers around the world will be celebrating ‘Left-Handers Day 2008’ on Wednesday 13th August.
The study also reveals that only five per cent of left-handed drivers believe being left-handed made learning to drive more difficult than if they were right-handed, although a quarter (27%) believe that cars are designed with right-handers in mind.

It should come as no surprise that left-handers appear to be the more accomplished drivers – some of the best drivers in history have been left-handed, including:

  • Ayrton Senna (deceased Formula 1 driver and three times world champion – considered to be one of the best ever)
  • Valentino Rossi (Nine times MotoGP motorbike champion – considered  to be one of the best ever)
  • Buzz Aldrin (Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 11 – the first manned mission to the Moon)
  • Chewbacca the Wookie (co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon – Star Wars)

Simon Douglas, director of the AA Driving School, comments: “Scientists have hypothesized for years that left-handers are quicker to learn than right-handers and, looking back through history, some of the most important drivers in the world have been left-handed.

“We wanted to see if we could find some evidence to support the theory. Some of our instructors point out that left-handers tend to be left-footers too and, as one of the hardest things to learn is changing gear and clutch control, they tend to pick this skill up more quickly.  So we’ve taken a deeper look into the phenomenon of left handed drivers.”

Douglas adds: “Although fewer students are left-handed, some of our instructors have commented that it’s the left-handers that seem to pick up skills like clutch control much more quickly than the right-handers.
“Changing gears with the left hand can also sometimes be a challenge for right-handers but it’s an easy thing to overcome and, with a good instructor, anyone can learn to drive.”
Survey based on YouGov poll of 2000 people between 6th and 8th August 2008.

Other pages in our Left Handed Facts Section:

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7 comments on “Are left-handers better drivers?
  1. A.J. says:

    Having read this article brought back memories of my first driving experiences. My dad (deceased) tried teaching me as a teenager–to no avail since all his bad driving habits were wrong. While living in Long Island, NY, I failed the road test twice. I moved to Florida in Nov. 1999, took the road test there and passed. That was April 2000, so it’s almost 19 years. In America, the steering wheel is on the left; as a lefty I wish the gas pedal and brake was on the left as well. In England, they’re on the right. All things considered, I hold the steering wheel with both hands but majority of control is with my left hand.

  2. Robert Larkin says:

    I came out as a 75% lefty but I think the test should include a “both” option, as I can use most hand tools, such as hammers, files, saws, chisels, etc, in either hand. I’m artistic, can paint and draw, and make working models. I’ve never curled my left hand around the top of the line when writing as I’ve always held a pen or pencil with my fingers at least 4cm from the point, which prevents smudging. I was taught to write this way at primary school in 1947 and was never made to write right handed.

    I was also a military gliding and powered flying instructor and about 30% of the instructors on the school were left handed, which was very convenient when flying an aircraft.

  3. Larry Ray says:

    I am a left handed person living in a right handed world….In my country, our vehicles have the steering wheel & controls on the left side. Learning to drive an eighteen wheeler (lorry in some places) with a manual transmission with multiple gears was very tough because right handed people used their right hand to shift gears. I have had to learn to use lots of things made for right handed people, and subsequently have become quite proficient in their use, but there are certain things that are downright awkward for me to use and will always be that way. Some years ago, I was involved in an auto accident which resulted in my right wrist being maimed and I am no longer able to make certain movements. I lost lots of strength in my right arm also and have never been able to regain it. I said all that to say that right handed tin openers are for the most part hard for me to use. I have invented a work-around for that, in that after the tin opener is snapped on to the can (or tin), then I turn the can around so the handles are pointing away from me and use my left hand to turn the crank. As for learning to drive, it was never a problem for me (in this country) as I am for the most part ambidextrous. A person can learn to do most anything if they have the right mindset. Also, you can write with very few typos or misspellings and mistakes in grammar if you frequently read over what you’ve written and look for those things. Spell check doesn’t help you if you don’t know which suggested spelling is the right one. I rarely have to use it. Something written and spelled badly with poor grammar causes the reader to question the writer’s literacy.

  4. Alan G says:

    I would like to drive a car with the accelerator pedal on the left side and the clutch pedal on the right side, as like most if not all left-handers I am left footed as well as left handed. I have been driving for 30 years and you can tell it is me driving as when I am accelerating in the lower gears the car shunts quite badly. I can never adapt. I live in a country where the driver seat is on the right side of the car, and I believe that the advantage to left handed people of the gear lever on the left is not as great an advantage as having the above pedal arrangement, as I feel that operating the pedals is a more complex process of control than changing the gears. I believe I would be a better, and safer driver if the car had this pedal arrangement

  5. Ken G Grant says:

    I can recall being at early school and going home crying. The teacher was making me write right handed and it wasn’t working. When I told mum this I have never seen her move so fast. She was into school and tearing a strip off the teacher with if a person is left handed then they do things left handed.
    As for the driving, I passed my car test on the first attempt and I passed my heavy good vehicle driving test first time. Thank you

  6. Craig Philip says:

    I have driven over one million miles in my life ,I was a outside sales representative . I haven’t had a ticket or a fender-bender since my college days. My wife and daughter think I drive horrible .
    That record can’t be good fortune . Perhaps I perceive and react to traffic differently than the “rightys”.
    Any surveys on left driving skills ?

  7. Larry Ray says:

    You folks in the UK are fortunate (for left handers) in that your driving controls in your cars & trucks are on the RIGHT side of the cab. Here in the U.S., it is the opposite. I had to learn gear shifting and clutch control on the other side of the car from yours. This arrangement suits right handers much better, but being the talented left hander that I am, I learned to do it much better than the common run of the mill right hander. I am also modest, of course. Lol

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