Statistically speaking, female road users are on the rise. Research by the RAC Foundation confirms that the number of women to hold a UK driving licence between 1995 and 2010 has risen by 23% resulting in 13.8 million female motorists on the UK’s roads.
This is in contrast to the number of male drivers which has grown by just 9% over the same period.
The RAC also revealed the number of miles women drive each year is rising at the same time as the equivalent statistic for males is decreasing, factoring a gender transition that switches the female from the passenger side to the driver’s seat.
The change can be documented due to the adjustment in lifestyle for women who often get married later in life, delay having children and are increasingly leading independent lives. The car plays a pivotal role in this lifestyle change, enabling women to get about more freely. It is also being felt in the US where over 50% of drivers licence holders are now women according to a study from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. The change also has safety and environmental impact as females are more likely to purchase smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles.
Women in Trucking
The US is undergoing an even more dramatic change in the traditionally male-dominated trucking sector where 5% of women account for the country’s three million truck drivers. This is a marked increase over the 1% recorded in Europe and is arguably due to the influential organisations such as Women in Trucking (WIT) which have worked tirelessly to change attitudes in the sector. The group has also puts forward proposals to address the US driver shortage with a recruitment guide to attract female applicants. Women in Trucking has also begun building significant inroads to education and government institutions, which could provide further female motoring career opportunities in the future.
Although organisations like WIT have worked hard to promote female equality in transport the ‘Automobile’ and its industry should forever be indebted to women following the role of Bertha Ringer in 1909. Bertha completed a 50 mile cross country trip (the first in a horseless carriage across the United States) and inspired public opinion to believe that the automobile could be a safe, reliable and effective method of transport. Without the journey the automobile may never have been as popular and evolved in the ways we recognise it today.
Female role models for road safety
Female drivers also lead as role models for road safety due to their more cautious nature than male counterparts. Statistically younger males are 10 times more likely to be killed or injured then a driver over 35 whilst the typical insurance claim for a male is three times that of a female in the UK. In spite of this, the new Gender Directive which came into effect on 21 December prevents the discrimination of insurance based on gender, resulting in significant increases in premiums for younger female drivers in particular. Whilst this could impact on the number of female drivers taking to the road in future, it is unlikely to counterbalance the changing demographics of motoring.
This is a Guest Blog contributed on behalf of Pannone Law Firm, Driving Offence Solicitors and specialists in UK Motoring Law.