The make-up of the average motorist is changing, for better or for worse. As cars have grown more complicated in nature, and generations have moved away from the ‘make do and mend’ culture of the mid-20th century, attitude – and indeed knowledge – shifts have been noted in the UK’s driving population. A recent survey interviewed motorists across the UK, ascertaining maintenance knowledge and creating rankings; Edinburgh tops an unenviable list with regard to car maintenance, representing the worst city in the UK for car maintenance knowledge. So, what is going on? Here we will look at the survey in more detail, before thinking about the wider ramifications of the survey.
Car dealer Jardine Motors carried out the survey, asking motorists from cities across the nation to answer a number of questions relating to the maintenance of their vehicle. The questions were derived from the ‘show me, tell me’ portion of a practical driving test, including such questions as “how do you check your brake fluid level?” and how do you change a flat tyre?”
The Best and Worst for Car Knowledge
Of the 1000 respondents to the survey, the average question failure rate for respondents from Edinburgh was 60% – indicating that three in five motorists from Edinburgh would be unable to answer a relatively basic question about their car. Of the 15 cities questioned as part of the survey, Edinburgh had the highest likelihood of giving an incorrect answer – making it the single worst city in the UK for maintenance knowledge. Manchester was an extremely close second, with 59% of the population surveyed getting an average question wrong.
These results exist in stark contrast to the best cities for maintenance knowledge; Bristolians blew away the competition, with a mere 32% failure rate – significantly less than even the runner-up for most knowledgeable city, Belfast, which logged a 37% failure rate for questions. London and Sheffield vied for the middle spot in the rankings, getting 52% and 49% of car-related questions wrong respectively.
The Wider Landscape
The results may make for good-natured humour, but they also come as concerning news for the UK’s driving population. In some locations, a majority of drivers are demonstrably unable to answer a question which ultimately formed part of their practical driving test – a fact which could endanger other motorists and pedestrians in built up areas.
The results also speak to an ever-widening generational divide, as well as the effects of recent events on knowledge retention and familiarity with vehicles. The survey included generational data, indicating that older drivers knew more about maintenance on average than their millennial counterparts. This information is bolstered by a 2018 report, showing that 75% of millennials did not think they could confidently change a tyre at the side of the road.
There are several ways to potentially explain this disparity. For starters, many UK drivers have not been driving throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic – which, for newer drivers, can be disastrous for retention of knowledge. It is also true that, as cars grow more technologically advanced, less motorists trust themselves with maintaining their vehicle, instead preferring to hand over to a licensed and seasoned mechanic.
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