Higher petrol prices blamed for UK motorists driving less

New analysis of over 23 million MOT tests shows cars are driven on average 10% less than a decade ago

Petrol pump in car

New research of 23 million MOT test results has revealed the average mileage driven by UK motorists has fallen again, down 10% from a decade ago.

Data from every MOT test carried out in the UK in 2017 was released by the Department for Transport, and shows that cars were driven an average of 7,134 miles that year. That’s down from 7,250 in 2016 and 7,334 in 2015.

In 2007 the mileage driven by every car tested in the UK was 7,712.

The fall in average mileage is likely due to be as a result of petrol prices, which have increased from under 105p in 2015 to about 120p in 2017. Last year prices went over 130p but have since gone down to the current average cost per litre of 122p.

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The new analysis is sure to fire up the debate over whether the UK has reached “peak car”.

Despite an increase in car sales in the last three years, and more women and older people driving than ever before, the number of car journeys and the mileage driven has been fallen consistently since 2002.

Last year the official National Travel Survey (NTS) revealed that the average UK driver takes about 594 car trips every year – compared to 678 in 2002.

Although the rising price of petrol and diesel has been suggested as a reason, there are a number of other potential factors that could be behind the drop in mileage.

For instance, the number of teenagers passing their driving test has fallen by almost 40% in the last 20 years – due in most part to the higher cost of driving lessons and car insurance. Business mileage has also dropped considerably due to new tax rules leading to fewer company cars on the road.

Despite this, the RAC Foundation has suggested that the MOT and NTS data doesn’t cover cars that are less than three years old – so it ignores the mileage driven in new cars.

The RAC said that although fewer young people are driving, it is largely due to the cost and the lack of need while at University – and that once they own a car their driving habits are much the same as older motorists.

However, they added factors such as cheap Uber taxi’s and online shopping leading to fewer journeys to the high street could be having an impact on car-usage patterns.

The number of two-car households has also increased – from 8% in 1971 to 35% now.