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More women take to the driving seat: Number of female drivers accelerates at twice rate of male motorists

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UPDATED:

01:45 GMT, 3 December 2012

The number of new drivers is rising twice as quickly among women as it is among men, a study reveals today.

Not only that, but the number of miles women drive each year is rising as men drive fewer.

The report, compiled for the RAC Foundation, says that between 1995 and 2010 the number of women with a driving licence grew by 23 per cent, a rise of 2.6million to 13.8million.

On the rise: The number of new drivers is rising more quickly among women than men

On the rise: The number of new drivers is rising more quickly among women than men

Among men, however, the number grew by only 9 per cent, up 1.4million to 16.3million.

And that trend is likely to continue as the sharpest drop in driving is among young males in their 20s.

But while men still drive roughly twice the distance of women each year, the gap is closing as women drive a fifth more miles and men drive fifth fewer.

As a result the differences ‘are narrowing fairly quickly’ and young women in particular have now ‘nearly caught up’ with young men.

The report says that in the 15 years between 1995 and 2010 the number of women holding a driving licence grew by 23 per cent – a rise of 2.6 million to 13.8 million.

Over the same period, the number of men holding a licence grew by just 9 per cent – up 1.4million to 16.3 million.

The number of miles women drive each year is also rising as men drive fewer

The number of miles women drive each year is also rising as men drive fewer

Significantly the number of men aged 20 to 29 holding a licence fell by an even greater extent – down 0.3 million to 2.4million or a fall of 11 per cent.

The figures compare to the overall average for the period which rose from 26.1million to 30,7million – an increase of 18 per cent.

The report also highlights how over the 15 years to 2010 the average mileage of woman drivers increased by 479 miles to 2,960 miles – a rise of 19 per cent.

/12/03/article-2242074-053147E60000044D-715_468x331.jpg” width=”468″ height=”331″ alt=”The sharpest drop in driving is among men in their twenties. The number aged 20 to 29 holding a licence was down 300,000 to 2.4million” class=”blkBorder” />

The sharpest drop in driving is among men in their twenties. The number aged 20 to 29 holding a licence was down 300,000 to 2.4million

The RAC Foundation report says the surge
in women drivers is down to a rise in the proportion of women driving
rather than just rises in population. It puts this down to greater
economic and social independence among women who are now more likely to
work, stay single, and have families later – if at all. The average age
women have their first child has already risen to 28, up from 25 in
1980.

Also the proportion of men in work has fallen from 89per cent in 1985 to 83 per cent today, while women have increased from 68per cent in 1985 to 74per cent.

The RAC report concludes: ‘Average car driving mileage per head of population has changed little in Britain over the ten-year study period.

‘But this masks large differences in trends between men, whose driving mileage has decreased, and women whose driving mileage has increased. The largest drop has been for men in their 20s whose average car mileage fell by about 2,000 miles per year.’

It notes: ‘Half the increase in mileage by women can be accounted for by a rise in adult female license holding – up from 56per cent in 1995/7, to 62 per cent in 2005/7.’ Most of the reduction in mileage by men can be accounted for by a sharp fall in company car use linked to big increases in the tax on fuel provided for private use. Company car mileage has dropped by 57per cent while private car use is down less at 24 per cent.

On the move: Women lead increasingly independent lives with more going to work, getting married later, if at all and delaying having children

On the move: Women lead increasingly independent lives with more going to work, getting married later, if at all and delaying having children

But the big drop in young men in their 20s holding a licence since 1997 is another key factor and is linked to more of them being cash-strapped, living with their parents, remaining single and being in part-time work. This could signal a ‘structural change’ in car ownership as they age.

Politicians in Government and in Opposition must take note of the rise of the women driver as any ‘anti-car’ policies which restrict or penalise personal mobility will now hit even harder one of the most critical swing-voters at General Elections, the RAC warns.

Migrants to the UK ‘tend to use cars less’ particularly in the 20 to 39 age group which accounts for 43 per cent of migrants but just 24 per cent of those born in the UK, the study also reveals.

‘On average, people born in the UK drive more than those born abroad, and this holds for both men and women.’

The report adds: ‘Women have also helped boost National Rail travel with an 86 per cent rise amongst those in their 30s. This compares with a 54 per cent increase in rail travel across the board.’ Rail mileage rose most rapidly – almost tripling – for non-commuting business purposes .