Although women drivers now outnumber male motorists, men still account for the majority of the driving on America’s roads—albeit at a declining rate, says a University of Michigan researcher.
Using data from the Federal Highway Administration, Michael Sivak, a research professor at the U-M Transportation Research Institute, examined changes in the gender demographics of U.S. drivers from 1963 to 2010. In 1963, males represented 60 percent of all drivers. Today, that number is just under 50 percent. But when accounting for average annual miles driven, men make up 59 percent of drivers on the road—down considerably from 76 percent nearly 50 years ago.
“Currently, females with a driver’s license slightly outnumber males,” Sivak said. “However, because females drive less than males, the overall likelihood that a given driver on the road today is a female is still less than 50 percent.”
Since the 1960s, the average distance driven has increased 33 percent for men, but 89 percent for women. Back then, the average male drove twice as many miles as the average female. Today, the ratio is down to one-and-a-half times.
“The observed gender trends in driver licensing will likely have major implications on the extent and nature of vehicle demand, energy consumption and road safety,” Sivak said. “This is the case because females are more likely than males to purchase smaller, safer and more fuel-efficient vehicles than males. They also drive less and tend to have a lower fatality rate per distance driven.”