ANN ARBOR, Michigan — The growing number of female drivers will have a major impact on vehicle demand, energy consumption and road safety, according to a new report from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
The proportion of female drivers has gradually increased and stood at 50.5 percent in 2013, the most recent year that statistics were available from the Federal Highway Administration.
"Compared to males, females are more likely to purchase smaller, safer and more fuel-efficient vehicles," wrote researcher Michael Sivak.
While the report does not name specific makes and models, the roll call of smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles includes the 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV, Chevrolet Volt, Kia Soul EV, Nissan Leaf and Volkswagen e-Golf, according to the EPA.
There are certain vehicles, including compact crossover SUVs that have been targeting women shoppers since their inception, according to Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds.com senior analyst.
The U of M report notes that women are closing the "mileage gap" on the road.
About 41 percent of drivers on the road at any given time today are female, compared to roughly 24 percent in 1963.
Gender trends in driver licensing will have far-reaching implications based on the habits of women drivers.
Sivak noted: "Females drive less and females tend to have a lower fatality rate per distance driven."
Women have gone from a minority to a majority on the road. In 1963, women represented 39.6 percent of all drivers. Females became a majority in 2005.
Edmunds says: Women are literally gaining ground on the road, a trend that will be felt from automotive design studios to dealer showrooms.