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More women than men have a driver's license -- that's good news

December 13, 2012|By Jerry Hirsch
  • Traffic on Highway 101 in Sausalito.
Traffic on Highway 101 in Sausalito. (Robert Tong / Associated…)

Women now make up more than half of the U.S. population with driver's licenses and that has big implications for the auto industry and traffic safety, according to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

And that's not because of the old misconception that women are worse drivers than men, according to the university, which looked at driving data from 1963 through 2010.

"Females are more likely than males to purchase smaller, safer and more fuel-efficient vehicles than males," said Michael Sivak, a transportation professor at the university. "They also drive less and tend to have a lower fatality rate per distance driven."

Men now drive a third more than they did back in the 1960s, according to Sivak. But women have nearly doubled -- an 89% increase -- the miles they drive during the same period. Decades ago, men drove twice as many miles as women. Now it’s about 1 1/2 times.

Back in 1963, males accounted for 60% of all drivers. Now they make up just under 50% of those on the road. Nearly five decades ago, men drove 79% of all miles driven. Now, that’s down to 59%.

"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%."

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