Number of women drivers soar
Women motorists are set to outnumber their male counterparts on the road, it has emerged.An analysis for the RAC Foundation has revealed a dramatic narrowing of the gender gap on the roads since the mid-1990s.
In the USA the number of women drivers has just outstripped men for the first time and on the latest projections it is only a matter of time before Britain follows suit.
Not only are more women driving, but they are driving further, with their mileage rising by more than a fifth between 1995 and 2010.
"Women are in the overtaking lane when it comes to licence holding. No longer are they sat in the passenger seat, simply along for the ride,” said Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation.
“Greater social and financial independence has increasingly put them in the driving seat and it is entirely plausible Britain will replicate the United States where female motorists are now dominant.
“They are increasingly leading independent lives with more and more of them going to work, getting married later, if at all, and delaying having children.
“Women are on the move like never before and it is the car that is getting them about.”
In 1995 there were 15.1 million male drivers and 9.2 million women motorists. By 2010 the gap had fallen dramatically with 16.3 million women holding driving licences, compared with 19 million men.
The proportion of women holding licences over this period has risen from 50 per cent to 64 per cent during this period.
A variety of factors underpin the shrinking of the gender gap. It is believed the sharp rise in the number of women motorists reflects a change in society which has seen them becoming economically more active as well as having their first child later, aged 28 rather than 25, as was the case in 1980.
With more women living longer and higher female life expectancy, it is now seen as inevitable that they will outnumber male motorists.
At the same time the percentage of men in their 20s holding licences has fallen by 14 per cent to 65 per cent.
The drop in young men driving is believed to reflect tougher economic times, with more living at home and finding it harder to earn the money to run a car.
“It means they will have to design, specify and make vehicles for the general market and not just the male one,” he said.
“Cars will have to have a gentler line and not be as heavy on the steering with a greater emphasis on safety.
“Women are not interested in the macho image and statistics show that they are more careful drivers.”