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Drivers more wedded to cars than ever

Drivers’ dependency on their cars has jumped to the highest-ever level due to a claimed deterioration in public transport services.

Young people driving

Licence-holding has fallen dramatically since 1990.

Research for the RAC’s annual Report on Motoring has revealed that a third (33%) of motorists – the equivalent of 13.2m – say they are more reliant on their cars now than 12 months earlier, compared to just 27% in 2017.

Data from the report – now in its 30th year – shows car dependency had been dropping steadily since 2012 when 31% of motorists said they were more reliant on a car than the year before but drivers are now more wedded to the car than ever, despite local and national efforts to get drivers into alternative means of transport.

The report, which is based on a representative survey of 1,808 motorists, also found that the percentage of drivers whose car use has increased in the last year rose for the first time in four years. In 2018, 27% of motorists say they are using their cars more than the year before, while only 18% say their use has reduced – this is in stark contrast to 2017 when the percentages were 20% for increased car use and 24% less car use. This means there has been a 12% shift from less to more car use, which represents 4.8m drivers.

Although 34% said they were for using their cars more due to a greater need to transport family members (34%), having a longer commute (32%), and family and friends having moved further away (27%).

But a significant 24% blamed a deterioration in public transport services for using their car more often, with 44% of this group blaming public transport reliability, 39% higher fares and a third (33%) saying it was due to cuts in local services.

RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “At a time when there is so much effort being put into tackling air quality issues and congestion, it is alarming to see that dependency on the car is actually the highest we have ever seen.”

The research has been published as latest provisional estimates from the Department for Transport show that van and lorry traffic have increased over the last year – up 3.7% and 1.3% respectively– but car and taxi traffic remained fairly static with just a 0.1% increase.

To read the full RAC Report on Motoring, click here.

For more of the latest industry news, click here.

Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.