Women drivers outnumber men, by one measure

May 14, 2013 - Atlanta, Ga: An automobile travels in the HOV lane, low center, as other vehicles are shown in much slower additional lanes on I-85 south approaching the I-75/I-85 connector Tuesday afternoon in Atlanta, Ga., May 14, 2013. An HOV sign tells travelers the necessary passenger occupancy to use the lanes. With changes to HOV and HOT lanes on Atlanta interstates, it has become a bit confusing knowing when it's a HOV lane and when it's a HOT lane. JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM

Atlanta traffic in 2013. Women slightly outnumber men in a study of driving trends from 1963 to 2013. JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM

Recent research shows that there are now more women licensed to drive than men in the United States, although men still drive more miles.

The Transportation Research Institute at the University of Michigan found that, in 1963, about 60 percent of drivers were male. By 2013, 50 years later, the number had declined to 49.7 percent. The study notes, however, that when accounting for average annual miles driven, men still dominate the road. By that measure, men represent 59 percent of drivers on the road, down from 76 percent in 1963.

“Currently, females with a driver’s license slightly outnumber males,” said Michael Sivak, a research professor at the institute. “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.”

Fifty years ago, women drove just 24 percent of the miles; that number climbed to 41 percent during the next half-century.  

“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 wrote. “This is the case because, compared to males, females are more likely to purchase smaller, safer, and more-fuel efficient vehicles; females drive less; and females tend to have a lower fatality rate per distance driven.”

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