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Could you live without a car?

By raccars Published

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Research by an insurance company claims that Brits are increasingly reliant upon their cars. How would being without a car affect your life?

Road safety charity Brake is urging people to drive less and to walk and cycle more this winter, pointing out the health benefits of exercising more and driving less. That may be so, but driving is surely more convenient than walking in most cases, and new research suggests that it's also cheaper than some alternatives. Car ownership can feel like a frustrating and expensive business at times, but apparently it's nowhere near as expensive as using public transport and taxis.

The research found that the average British driver could end up spending an extra £540 every month to get around if they didn't have a car. The research also suggested that there would be a significant knock-on effect upon people's emotional well-being. 2,003 British drivers were questioned regarding their dependence upon their cars. About a quarter of participants claimed that being without access to a car would make them feel anxious, while 15 per cent went even further and claimed that they would be depressed without access to a vehicle. 10 per cent believed that they might panic or feel angry without access to a car, suggesting that we really are quite emotionally attached to our vehicles.

How much does it cost to live without a car?

To maintain the same lifestyle without driving their own car, the average Britain would need to pay for public transport and taxis, not only for getting to work but also for getting children to and from school and for social arrangements. A study of the financial factors involved suggested that the average driver would have to spend an extra £135 per week to get around without their car. Our reliance upon cars is heavily linked to our need to earn a living, with a third of survey participants believing that would earn, on average, £77 less per week without the ability to travel to places of work by car. For the under 55s, that figure increased to £107, while for Londoners it was £104.

A 2013 research project claimed that car ownership in the UK costs £3,500 annually or £67 per week, on average. This includes fuel costs, road tax, insurance, car maintenance and repairs. This is about half of what the survey suggests you would spend on getting around without a car.

The emotional attachment to cars

The project also looked at how cars impact upon our quality of life, finding that about 40 per cent of survey respondents would rather have to go without seeing family than without owning a car. 26 per cent rated their car above their mobile phone in terms of importance in their lives. About half would give up their social lives in favour of car ownership, and 9 per cent claimed that they would rather go without food than give up their beloved car.

The reasons given for our dependence upon cars are based mostly upon comfort and convenience. Public transport and taxis simply don't allow the same freedom to get around without substantial additional costs. Living without a car would force most survey respondents to curtail their social lives and would reduce their access to employment. At an emotional level, people would feel stranded and isolated without access to a vehicle and would find themselves operating in a far smaller geographic area.

Furthermore, despite the claimed health benefits, accident figures released by the Department for Transport suggest that travelling by car is a far safer form of transport than riding a bike or walking on Britain's streets. With winter in full swing, few people would choose to tramp down dark, cold streets rather than travel in the comfort of a warm car.

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