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Gender Trends May Impact Vehicle Design

Gender Trends May Impact Vehicle Design

By Jeff Youngs, November 15, 2012
According to the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), which recently conducted a study of gender trends in driver's licenses between 1995 and 2010, future vehicles may be safer and more fuel efficient. That's because more females possess driver's licenses than do males, and female drivers place more value on safety and fuel efficiency than do males, according to the study.

"The changing gender demographics will have major implications on the extent and nature of vehicle demand, energy consumption and road safety," said Michael Sivak, co-author of the study.

Other findings from the study show that, for the study years covered, the proportion of people under the age of 30 with a driver's license has declined. Among people between the ages of 25 and 29, there has been a decline in licensing of 4.7% among females and 10.6% among males. Recent data also indicates that 25% of drivers under the age of 20 have never gotten a driver's license and are on the road illegally.

According to the study, this shift in driver demographics may be due to the cost of buying, insuring and maintaining a vehicle, as well as increased use of technology among younger people. "Virtual contact," Sivak said, "reduces the need for actual contact."

UMTRI researchers say that if current trends continue, the gender gap will continue to widen, resulting in fewer miles traveled per year and lower traffic fatality rates.

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