Are young people going cool on cars?
With men under 30 doing half the miles on the road that their fathers did, one of the most highly reported trends in motoring currently is the idea that young people may be driving much less than their parents’ generation.
Outlets from the BBC to the Daily Telegraph have all recently written articles on this supposed shift in young people’s habits, and recent statistics from the Commission on Travel Demand do seem to show a trend of people not driving as much as 20 years ago.
- People are travelling 10% fewer miles than in 2002 and spending 22 hours less travelling each year than a decade ago.
- There has been a 20% reduction in commuter trips per week since the mid 1990s
- Growth in car traffic has slowed. In the 1980s, it grew by 50% whereas in the decade to 2016 it grew by 2%
Whilst this does seem to indicate the idea that we’re using our cars less and less, can this be put down to younger people not being interested?
If this phenomenon can be attributed to anything. It seems to come down to a big lifestyle shift in how young people view the car.
Those of the baby boomer generation were brought up on the idea of the car being a symbol of freedom. A tool that could be used to go anywhere and do anything, even represented culturally in films such as Dazed & Confused and Vanishing Point. Cars were inescapably cool and one of the cornerstones of adult life.
Among the younger generation however, there seems to be no such reverence. Communication is now more likely to be conducted online instead of face to face, and statistics from the Department of Transport show that young men in the 17 to 29 age group are spending 80 more minutes a day at home in 2014 than compared with the same age group in 1995.
There are also the much reported economic hardships facing our younger generation. With a rise in lower paid and insecure jobs, as well as the increase in university participation, we are left with a generation that uses transport and views the car a great deal differently to the one that came before it. Perhaps the car is not only as something that can wait. But not be prioritised whatsoever.
The future of car ownership
So what of the future? It’s difficult to really say, and will largely depend on the ability of the motoring industry to adapt to the ways we communicate, travel to work, and deal with the environmental consequences of personal travel in the next century. There are a lot of challenges ahead. And we look forward to following how they’re tackled with interest.