Car dependence rises in 2018

07.54 | 21 September 2018 | | 2 comments

A third of drivers are more reliant on their car now than was the case 12 months ago, with 27% reporting increased car usage during 2018, new figures from the RAC suggest.

The figures are published in the RAC’s annual Report on Motoring, which is based on a survey of more than 1,800 UK motorists and reveals drivers’ attitudes and concerns. The annual publication also paints a picture of how and why car owners’ views are evolving over time.

33% of respondents – the equivalent of 13.2m motorists – say they are more reliant on their cars now than 12 months earlier. The equivalent figure in the 2017 report was 27%.

Of those whose reliance on their car has increased, 14% said they are ‘much more dependent’ – a ‘statistically significant’ rise of 5% over the 2017 figure. The proportion who reported no change in car dependance fell by 6% to 55%.

The RAC report, now in its 30th year, also says that 27% of motorists are using their cars more than than 12 months ago, compared with 18% for whom car use has reduced.

The top reasons people gave for increased car use are a greater need to transport family members (34%), a longer commute (32%), and family and friends having moved further away (27%).

24% blamed a deterioration in public transport for using their car more frequently, with 44% of this cohort citing reliability, 39% higher fares and 33% identifying cuts in local services.

75% of motorists surveyed said they would find it ‘very difficult’ to adjust their lifestyle to being without a car.

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.

“While there is much talk about improving public transport, the reality is very different as buses and trains are not meeting public expectations, and in fact in some cases have actually gone backwards.

“There is a definite willingness among motorists to use public transport more if only it were better. Consequently, people end up driving by default as they feel public transport is either too expensive, non-existent or just doesn’t go where or when they need it to.

“Judging by the findings of this year’s RAC Report on Motoring the car, however it is powered, is here to stay.”



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    Hugh – personal transport is not necessarily car. For short journeys cycling can be a viable alternative for most. For longer journeys where trains come into their own having a bicycle at both ends would need TOCs to learn from the Swiss about accommodating bikes. Even tightly folding bikes can be a challenge on British trains.

    Paul Luton, Teddington
    Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

    “..(public transport)..just doesn’t go where or when they (the public) need it to” Stating the obvious perhaps. Isn’t that why people prefer personal transportation? Public transport on the other hand does come into its own for very long distances, although to facilitate that, people will still need to get to the railway stations and airports etc.

    Hugh Jones
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