The term “lady driver” is no longer a punch line. In fact, there are now officially more lady drivers in the United States than there are male drivers. That’s according to a recently released study by the Transportation Research Institute at the University of Michigan.
Here are the crunchy numbers:
- 105.7 million ladies on the road
- 104.4 million males on the road
That means there are 1.3 million more lady drivers than males. Specifically, women outnumber men among drivers aged 45 and older, and between 25 and 29. Researchers theorize it’s because men rely more on cellphones and the internet, which may reduce their need to drive.
The lady drivers have always been out there, but perhaps couldn’t be heard over the roar of the testosterone-fuelled car biz. One could be forgiven for thinking the main purpose of the lady driver was to provide fodder for comedians. Oh, what bumbling, dainty creatures we are! Those same comedians will likely interpret these new statistics as a sign of the apocalypse. A better response would be celebration – by men and women alike.
That’s because a research professor at the UM Transportation Research Institute says that women are more likely than men to purchase smaller, safer and more fuel-efficient cars – and that they drive less and have a lower fatality rate per distance driven.
What does it mean to the car industry? Historically, American women prefer off-shore vehicles – according to a study by TrueCar, 16 of the top brands with female buyers were imports like MINI, Nissan, Kia and Honda. Again, the study observed that most women preferred smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.
But some ladies like a little va-va-vroom under the hood. Visitors at last month’s SEMA (Specialty Equipment Marketing Association) convention in Las Vegas feasted their eyes on High Gear, a 2013 Mustang GT customized by a team of 40 women. There wasn’t anything remotely ladylike about this vehicle, which boasted an Edelbrock E-Force supercharger system and 20 inch wheels.
Women, perhaps more so than men, won’t be pigeonholed. But one thing’s for sure – we’re a force to be reckoned with, whether you agree with Helen Reddy or not. The time to start paying attention is sooner, rather than later.