A sustained drop in car use among young people, starting from Generation X, is likely to continue into future generations, a Department for Transport report has found.
The DfT noted that while the trend of reduced car usage started with Generation X, it had accelerated under millennials: in 1992/4, nearly half of 17-20 year olds and three quarters of 21-29 year olds held driving licenses. This figure was a peak number, and has since declined to 29% and 63%, respectively.
Between 1995-99 and 2010-14 there was a 36% drop in the number of car driver trips per person made by people aged 17-29, with a fall of 44% for men and 26% for women.
In terms of long term impact, the report found a link between starting to drive later and driving less.
There have been a number of factors putting young people off driving, including lower full-time employment rates among millennials and rising motoring costs.
Insurance is one of these costs – Association of British Insurers figures show that the average price paid for private comprehensive motor insurance in Q4 2017 was £493, the highest on record.
On top of this, the DfT pointed to people spending longer at home. Young men spend about 80 minutes more at home per day compared to in 1995, while the increase was 40 minutes more per day for women. Finally it noted that young people were increasingly urbanised, and therefore likely to rely on public transport.
The DfT added: “Closely tied to the changes in young people’s socio-economic and living situations are changes in when people start a family, their social interactions (substituting face -to-face interaction with digital communication, for example) and the importance that people attach to driving. With the current evidence base it is not possible to quantify the importance of each of these factors or to say the order in which they began to exert an influence. They should be treated as interconnected phenomena.”
The DfT suggested that the reasons millennials drive less are likely to occur in subsequent households, and that future generations may well continue the trends of driving less.
One caveat the report highlighted was a lack of data on the use of emerging transport options, and in particular shared mobility.
Overall, the DfT concluded: “Growth in incomes, including amongst young adults, is widely assumed to resume in the long term. However, given the social change that has been taking place, this scenario would not necessarily lead to a return to the same level of car use among young adults as we have seen in older generations.”