Drivers say car access is ‘essential’ during pandemic

Man loading car with groceries

Has your car been a lifeline this year?

A recent poll of more than 3,000 drivers shows 68% say their car is essential to life during the coronavirus pandemic. And it seems fears over-crowded public services are driving people away from greener transport options.

Effect on the green agenda

Car access has become more important to the majority of drivers (57%) since the start of the pandemic. That’s according to a survey by the RAC.

But what are people using their cars for?

The poll indicates that for 68%, access to a car is essential for carrying heavy items such as shopping, up from 54% last year.

Meanwhile, nearly six out of 10 (59%) say they need their cars to reach friends and family who don’t live within walking distance.

Experts now fear the stats show a marked shift in how people feel about taking transport, with fewer than half of drivers (43%) saying they’d use their cars less if train and bus services were improved – the lowest proportion since 2002.

Rod Dennis from the RAC says the new data reflects drivers’ “ongoing safety concerns of using potentially crowded public transport systems”.

He said: “Without a concerted effort from government and local councils, the pandemic risks putting efforts to encourage drivers out of their cars for some trips back by years.”

Improving air quality

These changing attitudes towards public transport could have a huge impact on government aims to improve air quality.

The UK is currently looking to reach net-zero for carbon emission by 2050 and has already brought in a number of schemes, such as low emission zones, reduced motorway speed limits and future bans on petrol and diesel car sales.

However, with drivers less open to alternative transport options, efforts to improve air quality could grind to a halt.

Mr Dennis said: “As cities seek to improve air quality and make urban centres cleaner places, it’s clear that low-cost, efficient alternatives to the car need further thinking and much greater financial investment.

“Park-and-ride sites make a lot of sense and cater for the many people who are too far from regular public transport networks.

“Perhaps now is the time for the concept to evolve to encompass park and cycle, park and walk, or even park and scoot.”

Looking to improve your carbon footprint? Use the 1st CENTRAL guide to green driving to help make your commute more environmentally friendly.

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