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2.0 Who is the motorist?

Parked cars

Of the motorists surveyed for the Report 2012, 57% have only one car and 35% have two cars. Three in five motorists also claim they could not reduce the number of cars in their household. Drilling down further into the data, 60% of rural drivers could not reduce the number of cars in their household against 50% of those living in urban areas.

Orange carSeven in ten motorists drive a small car of which a third drive a mini or super-mini which is unchanged from last year. Half of this group are drivers aged between 17-24 years old and only a quarter had children.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the average age of a car on the roads is 7.25 years – though motorists questioned for the Report drive cars averaging slightly less than this. A third of motorists drive a car aged between 5-10 years old, one in ten motorists drives a car over ten years and over 50% has a car under five years old.

New car sales fell 4.4% in 2011 from 2010, down to 1,941,253. But the downward trend masked the fact that fleet sales increased by 4.7% and business sales only fell by 0.6%, with private sales pulling the overall figure down by falling 14%1.

2.2 The amount driven

The average motorist drives 9,115 miles a year – though company car drivers cover 18,266 miles annually. Men drive more than women at 10,240 and 7,921 miles respectively and those with children drive around 1,330 miles more than those without.

While motorists are trying to drive less by combining journeys and reducing the number of non essential trips, provisional figures from the Department for Transport indicate that the number of miles driven last year actually increased by 0.9% after falling steadily since 20082. Never the less:

  • 63% of drivers combined as many journeys as possible into one – 57% for financial or personal reasons - and a significant increase on the 58% doing so in 2010.
  • 56% cut down on the number of short journeys they made – 48% for financial or personal reasons.
  • 49% cut down on the number of long journeys they made – 43% for financial or personal reasons - and up from 42% in 2010.

2.3 Motorists’ concerns

The cost of motoring tops the list of concerns with 60% ranking it of importance and 30% of most importance; this has fallen from 65% last year as other issues become more prominent, see chapter 4. The most concerned age group is the 25-44 year olds with 34% ranking it of most importance. By the time motorists reach 70, only 26% think it is most important. But not surprisingly 36% of those living in rural areas count it as the most important issue for them, against 27% of those living in urban areas.

Stat in a pintAlmost of equal concern for motorists is the behaviour of other drivers:

  • 58% worry about other people driving without tax and insurance.
  • 53% worry about other people driving while using phones without a hands free kit – up from 47% last year.
  • 52% worry about other people driving whilst under the influence of alcohol. This worry is most prevalent in motorists aged 17-24 where it is the most important concern for one in five.

Even the conditions of the roads, which so exercised motorists last year, has dropped as a concern from 54% of motorists last year to only 46% this year, with only 8% saying it was of most concern to them. This was probably due to milder winter weather in 2011/12 having less of an effect on the state of the roads.

"The decline in concern about the state of the roads this year is interesting. A recent CBI Infrastructure Survey showed that 60% of our members thought the condition of the roads had gotten worse. Congestion is also a big issue for businesses."

Sana Nabi
Policy Adviser, Confederation of British Industry


1. http://www.smmt.co.uk/2012/03/motor-industry-facts-2012/

2. www.dft.gov.uk/statistics/tables/tra2501/

3.0 Motorists and Money

1.0 Introduction