Rising fuel prices pushing motorists to change their car usage

57% of motorists have made at least one change to their car usage

Motorists spend €180 on average on petrol or diesel every month

3 in 10 will only use car for essential journeys

Just over 3 in 10 motorists plan to use their cars for essential journeys only, while a further 3 in 10 intend to walk more in order to better manage financially with the rising petrol and diesel costs. The latest consumer research from leading insurer Aviva1, has found that of 1,000 adults across the country surveyed, the vast majority (57%) say they either have changed and/or plan to change the frequency with which they use their car. However, 32% of women surveyed and 22% of men said they are unable to make any changes to their driving habits and therefore have “no choice” but spend their current amount of time on the roads. The average monthly amount spent by Irish motorists on fuel is €180, with one third of those surveyed spend over €200 every month.

Billy Shannon of Aviva commented on the findings: With rising fuel prices seeing no sign of abating, there’s no doubt that people are taking concerted action to limit the negative impact on their finances where they can. The petrol pumps are one of the hardest hit areas in terms of inflation having seen significant increases in the last 12 months2. Where once people might take the car out on the weekend for trips and travel, or use it for shorter journeys around their locality, many are now having to think about how they can economise and find alternative modes of transport where possible”.

The Aviva survey found:

A change in behaviour:

  • The most popular change people intend to make is to reduce their car journeys to only the essential ones. This is the case for 3 in 10 people, rising to almost 4 in 10 with people aged over 55
  • Young people aged 18-24 are most likely to walk more (80%) and to increase their use of public transport 78%
  • 1 in 10 will use a bike more – a much higher portion of 18–24-year-olds will do this at 69%
  • Men are four times more likely to say they’ll cycle more – 20% of them v’s 5% of women
  • 4 in 10 have not and will not change their driving behaviour
  • The percentage of people who cannot reduce their car usage simply because they have no choice but to use their car to the extent that they do, rises as you move from predominantly urban to predominantly rural provinces, with 14% in Dublin unable reduce their usage, compared to 41% in Connaught and Ulster

Fuel spends:

  • A third of people spend more than €200 per month on fuel – rising to 50% of those falling into the 25–34-year age bracket, followed by 39% of those age 35-44
  • Those in urban areas fare much better in terms of their fuel expenditure, with people in Dublin being much less likely to spend over €200 per month on motor fuel.

Many of these motorists are probably in households where there are one or more children, so aside from the commutes to and from work, there are probably multiple trips per week to classes, camps, courses, training, social events etc., all of which ramp up the fuel consumption.

Billy Shannon, Aviva

“€180 a month is not an insignificant amount of money – and more than a third of people are spending well above this. Just as rising costs of fuel are heavily impacting people’s pockets, cutting back on this expenditure, if possible, could make a big difference to household budgets

“While the impetus for change may be primarily down to financial constraints, it is none-the-less encouraging to see that lots of people are willing to get on their bikes and to walk more as it will have a positive knock-on effect on traffic congestion, the environment and on people’s overall physical health & wellness.

“The 1 in 5 intending to use public transport to a greater degree is another positive, in terms of the environmental payoff of reducing carbon pollution and congestion on our roads. The ongoing development of pedestrian and cyclist focused infrastructure in our cities will hopefully help ease the situation for people who want to use the cities in different ways and travel about in a safe manner” concluded Billy Shannon.

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1. Conducted by iReach Insights nationwide survey of 1,000 respondents carried out in April 2022

2. https://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/er/cpi/consumerpriceindexmarch2022/

Aviva Group Services Ireland Limited, a private company limited by shares. Registered in Ireland No.322579. Registered Office: Cherrywood Business Park, Dublin, Ireland, D18 W2P5.