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The odds have changed. A statistical survey of government data indicates that, for the first time, the majority of licensed drivers in the United States are women, rather than men.

This is the latest news about a trend that has been ongoing for at least fifty years. In 1963, about 60 percent of licensed drivers were men. That number has been declining ever since, and now falls just below 50 percent.

The study was developed by Michael Sivak, a research professor at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, and his colleague Brandon Schoettle, a Project Manager in UMTRI’s Human Factors Group. Their conclusions were published in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention.

The authors relied on data provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The researchers suggest that the gender shift among drivers will have a profound impact on both the automobile industry and on traffic safety in the future. “The changing gender demographics will have major implications on the extent and nature of vehicle demand, energy consumption, and road safety,” Sivak and Schoettle write. “Women are more likely than men to purchase smaller, safer, and more fuel-efficient cars, to drive less, and to have a lower fatality rate per distance driven.”

No Immediate Payoff

However, the authors point out that having more licensed women doesn’t automatically mean that the majority of drivers on the road are women. Men drive more hours and longer distances than women do, although the gap between the sexes has narrowed over the past five decades. Still, they remain in the majority: in 1963, 76 percent of drivers on the nation’s roads were male, but today that fraction is down to 59 percent.

Moreover, it’s quite possible—if present trends continue—that women drivers’ advantage in terms of roadway safety will fade away. The lower accident rate for female drivers could be statistically exaggerated due to women driving shorter distances and driving for shorter times. If women continue to approach parity with men on those measures, some of their advantages on safety statistics will vanish.

Our Perspective

Nevertheless, given that women are less likely than men to engage in behavior—such as drunken driving—that increases roadway threats in North Carolina, we can be grateful that trends suggest our highways may grow less dangerous in the future.

The Wilmington auto accident attorneys at the Speaks Law Firm would like to remind our community that, unfortunately, statistical trends provide no guarantee in individual cases. You could be involved in a rollover collision in Wrightsville Beach, or another kind of car accident elsewhere, due to the negligence of another driver of either sex. When that happens, call us as soon as possible toll-free at 877-593-4233. We’d like the chance to explain why our legal representation may be right for you.