It's easy to refer to the recession in 2008 as the point at which Americans started driving less, but a growing number of studies are showing that American driving peaked in 2004, The New York Times reports, and it's hard to quantify why.
According to a study by the University of Michigan, women now outnumber men on US roads for the first time in the country's history. Analysts at the school's Transportation Research Institute used data from driver's license statistics for their findings, and the trend may have a widespread impact on the automotive industry as a whole. The researchers predict that if the trend continues, it could affect everything from vehicle design to traffic fatalities and fuel consumption. The study concludes
It's no secret that the Big 3 are collectively suffering due short-sightedness in fuel-efficiency. However, a new study by the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) attempts to quantify near-future gains and losses if the domestic auto makers were to make proactive efforts to maximize fuel-efficiency fleet-wide.