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18 Aug 2022

Full impact of Covid-19 pandemic on driving habits and exercise revealed

Full impact of Covid-19 pandemic on driving habits and exercise revealed

People are using their cars less often than they did pre-Covid 19, latest statistics from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show. 

This is undoubtedly due to a change in working habits as many switch to working from home, or a hybrid approach in which people only go to the office a number of times per week, after pandemic restrictions were relaxed. 

In 2021, car usage was down on pre-Covid-19 levels. Of those who travelled by car daily or almost daily (at least five times weekly), less than nine in ten (87%) continued with similar frequency when surveyed in Quarter 4 2021.

One in eleven (9%) were now using a car less often (three to four times weekly), and 3% were only making trips by car once or twice weekly.

More people were spending less on their petrol/diesel in 2021 than they did prior to the pandemic.

Nearly half of respondents (46%) said their motor fuel spend had changed between 2021 and 2019, and of these, over three quarters were spending €50 or less per week on petrol/diesel.

The greatest proportion (30%) were spending just €20 or less per week on motor fuel, compared with 27% pre-Covid-19.
Car usage was impacted with more people now staying at home more often. 

In Quarter 4 2021, just 58% of respondents who were remote working, travelled by car daily or almost daily, compared with three quarters (75%) of respondents who were not working remotely pre-Covid-19.

Concerns regarding Covid-19 was one of a number of reasons given by respondents for not using public transport more frequently.

Covid-19 concerns were cited by one in seven (14%) respondents who use bus services less than weekly and one in ten (10%) respondents who use rail services less than weekly.

Nearly four in ten (37%) persons who walk said they walk more now than they did prior to COVID-19, and nearly half of these were specifically for leisure/exercise purposes.

Maureen Delamere, Statistician in the social analysis and modules division, commented: “When this survey was carried out in Quarter 4 2021, we were more than one and half years into the global Covid-19 pandemic. It is interesting to look at how this pandemic has changed our lives and, in particular, how it has impacted our travel behaviour.

"More remote working has likely impacted on our car usage. With more people remote working for part or all of their working week in Quarter 4 2021, car usage was impacted with more people now staying at home more often. In Quarter 4 2021, just 58% of respondents who were remote working, travelled by car daily or almost daily, compared with three quarters (75%) of respondents who were not working remotely pre-COVID-19," Ms Delamere said.

The statistics also show that people have become more active since Covid-19.

"Respondents were asked how often they walk/cycle. Of those who walk or cycle at least monthly, they were asked if they walk or cycle more than they did before the pandemic.

"Nearly four in ten (37%) said that they walk more now than they did prior to the arrival of COVID-19, while one third (33%) said they cycle more now than they did before the pandemic. Leisure/exercise purposes was the main reason for almost six in ten (57%) cycling journeys and nearly half (47%) of journeys by foot," Ms Delamere said. 

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