The rise in fuel prices since the turn of the year has had a big impact on UK motorists. According to a report by motor accessory retailer Halfords, the increase in pence per litre at the pumps has seen drivers now spending one hour and 26 minutes LESS behind the wheel each week.
Are these inconsequential statistics, though, or a true measure of public response to a prevalent issue that could seriously change the way in which we use our cars in this country?
Evidence points to it being to be the latter. That one hour 26 minutes statistic means drivers are clocking up 38 miles fewer per week. Instead of weekend recreational activities involving their vehicle, motorists are now turning to pastimes like gardening and shopping on the internet to try and kerb their fuel expenditure.
What’s more, a massive 92 per cent of drivers have changed their driving habits in a bid to save fuel, employing more economical techniques behind the wheel and leaving their car keys in their pockets more often. Four in ten people say they now walk or cycle to pick up their basic corner shop amenities, for instance.
Patently, if you drive less, you’ll save more money. But there are plenty of other benefits that the cost-conscious motorist who’s driving less can enjoy.
Such as, quality time with others. Modern life can sometimes mean families spend less time with each other, but far from people taking up more hobbies, using the car less has meant more time spent with relatives and at home.
Although nobody wants to pay excessive rates for fuel, it seems that the price rise has had a positive social impact on the country, improving family relations.
Alongside this is the obvious environmental benefit. It’s simple: drive less, burn less fuel, emit fewer CO2 emissions. A reduction of 34 miles per week could mean as much as 3.4kg of CO2 less on your average emissions over seven days in a typical vehicle such as a Ford Focus 2.0-litre diesel.
So, far from drivers carrying on obliviously, it seems the rise in fuel prices has struck a chord with many motorists – and is leading to a serious behavioural change in how we interact with the car.