Getting from A to B in a petrol or diesel car comes with a high price for us and the planet.
There are many benefits of ditching the car and embracing alternative ways to avoid congested roads. Going car-free is one of the most impactful ways you can make a difference to climate change. There are loads of initiatives designed to encourage drivers to rethink the way they get around including bike to work schemes. So why not think about giving up your car for good? Here are six shocking facts to consider next time you’re sitting in a traffic jam.
1. Cars account for a huge chunk of global emissions
Vehicles are the single biggest source of carbon dioxide in the UK. Cars account for nearly 30% of total CO2 emissions in Europe, and around 20% of all emissions created throughout the whole world. Motor vehicles are also responsible for 72% of nitrogen oxide emissions and 52% of reactive hydrocarbons globally.
2. Car pollution kills
According to the World Health Organisation, around 3.7 million people die each year from causes directly attributable to air pollution – that’s more than the number of people killed in car accidents. In the UK, air pollution kills nearly as many people every year as smoking does.
3. Driving is bad for your health
The sedentary nature of driving means that compared to taking public transport, it’s bad for your physical health. According to the American Heart Association, people that use public transport are 44% less likely to be overweight, 27% less likely to have high blood pressure, and 34% less likely to have diabetes, compared to drivers.
4. And it’s bad for your happiness
Driving has a negative effect on your mental wellbeing, too. According to a study from the University of East Anglia, those whose commutes involve some element of physical activity reported fewer feelings of worthlessness, unhappiness and sleeplessness than drivers. The research suggested that as buses and trains also give people time to relax, read and socialise, public transport users were likelier to feel cheerier than drivers, who were more inclined to report feeling under strain and have difficulties concentrating.
5. Owning a car is expensive
The average UK motorist spends £162 a month on keeping and maintaining their vehicle, accounting for fuel, insurance, tax, servicing and breakdown cover. That figure doesn’t cover the costs involved in purchasing a car in the first place, though, with research from Kwik Fit indicating that the average monthly car finance payment is £226, bringing the total up to £388 a month. That’s £4,656 a year!
6. Driving is a massive time drain
Yes, it might be a bit quicker to hop in the car to collect the kids from school, but there’s no end of research that suggests motorists are literally wasting their lives behind the wheel. One study indicates that rush hour drivers lose an average of 178 hours every year due to traffic – that’s over a week! Meanwhile, the British Parking Association reports that the average motorist spends 91 hours (nearly four days) every year looking for somewhere to park. What else could you be doing with that time?
So what’s the alternative?
Many of us view car ownership as a basic necessity, but before you discount the idea of going car-free altogether, consider how you really use your car. Are your journeys really unfeasible on foot, or by public transport? Do you really need to use a car on a regular basis, or could you become a member of a car share club and only rent a car as and when you need it?
Of course, there are some scenarios where driving is the only viable option. If this is the case, consider swapping your gas guzzler for an electric vehicle instead. They’re better for the environment, cheaper to run and experts predict that it won’t be long until they’re cheaper to buy than regular cars anyway – so why not make the switch sooner rather than later?