Ladies, start your engines: we’re taking over

Written by on December 11, 2012 in Cars and Chicks, Trends - 18 Comments

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.

This means the roads might finally be a little safer.

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.

18 Comments on "Ladies, start your engines: we’re taking over"

  1. Jon Jefferson December 11, 2012 at 5:18 pm · Reply

    The talk of the Mustang reminds me of my mother’s last car purchase. I went with her to the Ford dealership real close to our house. She was picking up a Taurus (something sensible and easy to handle) but she was going ga ga over the new Mustangs. That is one scary vision (70 year old woman who is a little maniacal behind the wheel with that much power)…

    • Krystyna Lagowski December 12, 2012 at 6:47 pm · Reply

      I think I like your mom, Jon! Good on her that she’s got that kind of zest for life. When I’m 70, I hope I’ll be able to appreciate a car with some bounce to the ounce. Actually, I’m pretty sure I will!

  2. Susan Cooper December 11, 2012 at 6:40 pm · Reply

    I do love the fact that we are in general terms safe and better drivers… LOL. Finally someone gets it. I also had to laugh. I ma just what you said, smaller safer and more fuel efficient cars are what I buy. 🙂

    • Krystyna Lagowski December 12, 2012 at 6:49 pm · Reply

      It’s interesting how often the correlation between women and small, fuel-efficient cars comes up, and yet it’s only now that these are truly catching on. And of course we’re better drivers – the insurance companies have known this for years! We don’t feel the need to prove anything.

  3. Kelly Wade December 11, 2012 at 6:47 pm · Reply

    Wow thats pretty interesting to think about. I’d figure that men would want to show off their independence more as they get older like my great uncle who definitely shouldn’t be driving but still does. I hate that there’s a stigma against female drivers as there are certainly just ask many terrible male drivers as there are female drivers. Cool post!

    • Krystyna Lagowski December 12, 2012 at 6:53 pm · Reply

      As our generation ages I’m sure it will be hard to pry the keys out of our hands, male and female alike. For sure a car is a sign of independence, more specifically, mobility. As for the terrible drivers, I’m afraid some statistics show the ladies are catching up to the men, as our lives become more stressed. Hopefully this trend will change as we find more ways of ie telecommuting, more options for transportation and better infrastructure.

  4. Marv Green December 12, 2012 at 6:05 am · Reply

    My mom is a go fast girl. I grew up around cars my whole life because of my mom I’m a mechanic. Women control most of the money one way or another. It’s good that I see that the auto industry are paying more attention to the needs of women in their designs. Women are also the main driving force in new technology as far as eco friendly vehicles. Women are a strong voice in the peoples demand cleaner burning emissions. Which most people don’t understand creates jobs. New technologies are born. Women are my best customers. They don’t wine ,they pay their bills on time, & they are better tippers. I’m glad to have you ladies on the road!!!

    • Krystyna Lagowski December 12, 2012 at 6:55 pm · Reply

      Really? You’re a mechanic because of your mom? That’s fantastic. Wish there were more people like you and your mom around. I’ll bet she’s a pretty special lady and is very proud of her son. And it’s true, women make more of the buying decisions – we have done so for a long time. Plus we’re not shy about asking for what we want, like cleaner emissions. Your comments are so very astute!

  5. Geek Girl December 12, 2012 at 7:51 pm · Reply

    I love it! Yet more validation that women rock! 🙂

    • Krystyna Lagowski December 17, 2012 at 2:18 am · Reply

      You betcha! While women have not exactly been hiding in the shadows, these days we are really speaking out. And, hopefully, being heard!

  6. Jeri December 12, 2012 at 8:07 pm · Reply

    My next car will most likely be a Mini Cooper, but I certainly miss my Mustang! (Too many snowy winters to justify it as an ever day car…) There’s just something about a muscle car that makes all common sense go out the window. I guess I’m one of those who likes a little va-va-vroom 😉

    • Krystyna Lagowski December 17, 2012 at 2:23 am · Reply

      You’re not alone! I think you’ll enjoy the Mini, they’re a fun, peppy car that handles extremely well. It’s a very different type of car from the Mustang. You might find yourself missing the Mustang a little less .. : ))

  7. Patrick Huff December 13, 2012 at 2:23 pm · Reply

    I am also curious to hear what the stats are for public transportaion.

    • Krystyna Lagowski December 17, 2012 at 2:25 am · Reply

      An excellent point! I don’t know if those stats are available, but it would be fascinating to know what the gender breakdown is. I’ll keep a lookout for relevant numbers and will report back.

  8. Becc December 17, 2012 at 6:12 am · Reply

    I have to say I personally go for what the car looks like – pathetic I know. I do own a Merc that has a V8 engine….does that redeem me?

    • Krystyna Lagowski December 20, 2012 at 7:38 pm · Reply

      Not pathetic at all! One of the things I love about my car is its sexy, sporty look (03 Acura RSX). Now the V-8 Merc, that’s gotta be a very cool car. Good on you.

  9. Dan Meyers December 18, 2012 at 2:28 am · Reply

    My wife is definitely an SUV girl, and I don’t think I’d ever be able to take that away from her (not that I’d want to!). It might be because she’s from Colorado, but she definitely refuses to be pigeon-holed into a stereotype!

    • Krystyna Lagowski December 20, 2012 at 7:40 pm · Reply

      You definitely need an SUV in Colorado! Many women love their SUVs because they like the height and feeling of safety, especially if there are children involved. Women are as diverse a demographic as it gets!

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