Belfast Telegraph

Women drivers making inroads: 10% more female motorists now holding driving licence than decade ago

By Linda Stewart

Women are gradually making inroads on Northern Ireland's carriageways, according to the latest Government statistics.

More than seven in 10 women now hold a car driving licence compared to six in 10 a decade ago, the Travel Survey for Northern Ireland reveals.

But despite the recession, there is little evidence that we're travelling further for work, with the average distance travelled per year much the same as a decade ago.

"Looking at the 17 and over age group, a higher proportion of men (83%) held full car driving licences than women (71%) in 2011-2013. Some 71% of women now hold a car driving licence, an increase of 10 percentage points from 2001-2003 (61%)," a DRD spokesperson said. The average number of miles travelled by bike per person per year has dropped slightly to 26 after rising to 28 in 2010-12 from 14 in 201-3.

However, the number of miles walked per person climbed to 157 from 142 a decade ago.

And the distance travelled by rail has climbed from 56 miles per person a decade ago to 100 now. But motorcycle journeys have plummeted from 25 miles per person a decade ago to 6 now.

Roads enthusiast Wesley Johnston said the figures point to a rise in single-occupancy car use and said it was interesting that 70% of respondents said they had "no difficulties" commuting by car.

"It's notable that commuting is not the principal reason for travelling - the biggest reason people give for travelling (in distance terms) is leisure, illustrating the importance of travel to health and wellbeing," he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Mark A Tully, lecturer in physical activity and public health at Queen's University Belfast, said it was promising that the perceived availability of buses has increased and the proportion of children's journeys on foot has risen to 22%.

"This suggests the opportunity for active travel as at least part of a journey is improving. Greater provision of choice for active travel and public transport has great potential to impact on the barriers reported in daily commutes (time and cost of petrol) as well as contribute to the health and wellbeing of people in Northern Ireland."

Factfile

On average, Northern Ireland residents travelled 5,932 miles per year during 2011-2013 - around the same as the average distance travelled per person in 2001-3 (5,786 miles). In 2011-2013 each person made an average of 901 journeys per year, a decrease from the 2001-3 average of 960 journeys per person per year. Each person in Northern Ireland spends 298 hours a year travelling - just over 12 days a year. About 33 minutes a day are spent in the car and eight minutes on foot. 

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