Cars and vans spend just 4% of the time being driven – report

·2-min read
Cars parked on a road in London (PA Archive)
Cars parked on a road in London (PA Archive)

Cars and vans in England are driven just 4% of the time on average, new figures show.

The vehicles are usually either parked at home (73%) or elsewhere (23%) such as at work, analysis by the RAC Foundation found.

The motoring research charity believes the figures – which are similar to those recorded 26 years ago – demonstrate there is a “huge opportunity” for electric vehicles to be charged at home.

It said 65% of Britain’s 28 million households have enough off-street parking to accommodate at least one car or van.

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: “The average car is driven just one hour out of every 24, a proportion that is almost the same as it was back in 1995.

“However, this lack of use does have one silver lining. It means that there is ample opportunity for recharging the next generation of electric vehicles, particularly at home, or at work – so making best use of our cars’ ‘down-time’ rather than us having to make a specific trip just to get refuelled.

Charging point sign (PA Wire)
Charging point sign (PA Wire)

“There is clearly a lot of attention focused on providing a rapid public charging network to help address drivers’ range anxiety, but this data shows there is plenty of scope for slower, potentially cheaper recharging facilities to be installed at people’s homes, where the average car spends so much of its time.”

The report, based on data provided by consultancy Field Dynamics, mapping agency Ordnance Survey and the Government also found that Britain’s most popular cars take up nearly one third more road space than they did in the 1960s.

In 1965, the top five best selling cars – including the Austin Morris 1100/1300, Ford Cortina and Mini – were on average 1.5 metres wide and 3.9 metres long.

By 2020, this had increased to 1.8 metres wide and 4.3 metres long due to models such as the VW Golf, Ford Focus and Mercedes A Class.

Mr Gooding said: “Not only are cars getting bigger, there are also more of them.

“This is putting huge pressure on roadside space and explains why many of us feel that the parking bays in car parks don’t seem quite big enough.

“Crucially domestic garages are also often unfit for their intended purpose – the planning system needs to recognise that garage design needs to catch up with vehicle design, or throw in the towel and recognise that they are, in practice, garden sheds waiting to be converted to provide extra accommodation, which means thinking again about where the family car is going to be parked.”

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