Changing gear

The number of young adults driving in Britain fell by nearly 40% between 1994 and 2014 according to a study commissioned by the DfT

The study, Young people’s travel – what’s changed and why? was carried out jointly by UWE Bristol and the University of Oxford for the DfT. It showed that driving among young people peaked in 1994 when 48% of 17-20 year olds and 75% of 21-29 year olds held driving licences. By 2014, those numbers had fallen to 29% and 63% respectively.

The report points to a number of factors that are changing attitudes towards car travel including the rising cost of motoring, particularly insurance, coupled with a stagnation in wage rates. It also cites the increasing use of information and communication technology as a factor, with people spending more time at home, working remotely and communicating with each other online. More time spent in education and delays in starting relationships and having children have also had an effect.

The report also highlights the importance of public transport in enabling young people to gain their independence and access all the opportunities available to them. The Times quotes the report’s author, Dr Kiron Chatterjee: “While the change in young people’s travel behaviour is to be welcomed in that it aligns with aims to reduce the adverse impacts of transport use, such as air pollution and carbon emissions, it is important that young people have alternatives to the car for getting to education, employment and social destinations. Otherwise there could be damaging impacts on their life opportunities and wellbeing.”

Click here to read the report in full

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