Olivia McLeish is surprised to hear of the spike in female drivers. Picture AAP/David Clark
Olivia McLeish is surprised to hear of the spike in female drivers. Picture AAP/David Clark

Something crazy happening on our roads

FEMALE drivers have become dominant on Queensland roads, after the number of men licensed to get behind the wheel shifted down last year in a move that has left experts puzzled.

The drop of nearly 32,000 licensed male drivers in 2017 flies in the face of just about every demographic trend in the state, and the Department of Transport was unable to explain what had happened.

The plunge was countered by an equally staggering spike of nearly 130,000 extra women behind the wheel in 2017, meaning that for the first time since 2012 they outnumbered men on the roads.

Transport Department figures show there were 1.82 million licensed female drivers on June 30 last year and 1.76 million male drivers.

Experts have only been able to guess at the reasons, and will be eagerly looking at the next set of licensing statistics to see if last year was an anomaly or the start of a trend.

A Transport Department spokeswoman said there was insufficient "transactional data" to work out exactly why the numbers had shifted so dramatically.

"While we ensure everyone who gets their license meets the required criteria and record the number of licences, we do not record why individuals decided to get their licence," she said.

"In the same vein, we don't record why others decide not to get their licence."

Grace Lutheran student Olivia McLeish, 17, was stunned by the figures, as she said just about all the boys she knew who were old enough to drive had a licence, while many of the girls did not.

Ms McLeish, who has graduated to a provisional licence, applied for one as soon as she was old enough, because it would give her more independence and freedom.

"A lot of my girlfriends, even if they are old enough, don't have their licence, they just don't want to drive," she said.

RACQ spokeswoman Clare Hunter said the figures had set "chins wagging" but the organisation was unable to determine what was behind it.

Ms Hunter said the average increase in the number of males on the road over the past decade had been 46,615 until the dramatic drop last year.

"What really stands out is the increase for female licences is an unusually big one, with a jump of 6.2 per cent," she said.

"While it's difficult to know for sure, we can guess there are a few reasons at play here.

"One could be a large increase in people moving to the Sunshine State and changing over to a Queensland licence.

"The other could be a large proportion of older male drivers relinquishing their licences."

Last year, The Sunday Mail revealed nearly 8000 Queensland driver's licence holders were aged 90 or over, a 30 per cent jump from just three years ago.



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