New Department for Transport-commissioned research investigates why young adults are driving less, and concludes that trend is unlikely to reverse



New research has confirmed that young people in Great Britain and other countries are driving less now than young people did in the early 1990s.

The University of the West of England’s Centre for Transport and Society and Oxford’s Transport Studies Unit were commissioned by the Department for Transport to determine how young people’s social and economic conditions, lifestyles and attitudes have impacted on their travel behaviour, in particular car use.

They have found that the reduction in car use has largely been driven by the rapidly altering socio-economic situations of young people. In particular they highlight increased participation in higher education, the rise of lower paid, less secure jobs and a slide in disposable income.

Meanwhile, a decline in home-ownership amongst young people aged between 17-29 and their movement to predominantly urban areas have accelerated this change. Researchers also note that these are long term trends that predate the global economic crisis of a decade ago.

Closely tied to these factors are other changes, such as the age at which people start a family, changes in their social interactions as a result of the growth of new technologies and social media and the importance that people attach to driving. Researchers believe all of these factors are interconnected.

They also believe that it is unlikely that future generations will re-establish the levels of car use seen amongst young people in the early 1990s. While growth in incomes is anticipated to resume at some point, structural changes in society mean that this may not translate into rising levels of car use among the young.


This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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