A Decline in Car Use in Britain: The Result of Policy and Practicality

Britain has been experiencing a decline in car use, reports the U.K.’s Independent. Between 2004 and 2008, British cities saw a nine percent decline in car trips per person and a 5 percent decline in traveled car distance.

Phil Goodwin, a professor of transport policy at the University of West of England, attributes the decline to the new generation of drivers, or better yet, the lack thereof. According to Goodwin, fewer young people are learning to drive. In fact, between 1992 and 2007, the number of 17- to 20-year-olds who obtained a driving license fell 10 percent; the age group of 21- to 29-year-olds saw a nine percent decline.

Transport experts credit several possible factors for deterring young people from taking up driving, most popularly cost. Soaring gas prices with the combined effect of insurance and maintenance costs have more and more younger people choosing alternative modes of transport.

“There is an inverse correlation between petrol prices and traffic – when petrol prices go up, traffic levels go down,” the report explains. “But petrol will have to get a lot more expensive before people abandon their cars in significant numbers.”