Car Ownership: 9 out of 10 of us could not live without a car.

92% of Irish drivers feel that their car is “essential to their life” according to a survey carried out by insurers
That’s the average figure, and while the percentages are higher in rural areas (the figure was 95% in both Connacht and Munster, 96% in Ulster and 92% in Leinster) it was still a worryingly high 86% in Dublin itself, the one region of the country where a significant amount of public transport, and investment in public transport, is to be found.
It’s a figure which suggests that in spite of a decade of investment in the public transport infrastructure before the financial crash hit us, Irish people it would seem are still unimpressed, unsatisfied and unmoved (literally and figuratively) by public transport.
“While recognising the importance of cars to many people, this Department promotes a ‘Smarter Travel’ policy for the future of the transport sector in Ireland which helps people to make smarter choices about their personal travel habits” Monica Quinn from the Department Of Transport press office told us.
“The Department’s aim is to reduce the number of journeys made by private car, regardless of car ownership, by increasing use of other travel modes such as public transport, walking and cycling. Reducing car use will bring down our emission levels to help us to meet our international obligations and will also reduce our energy dependence. The recently published guidelines for street design will also encourage people to switch from cars to more sustainable forms of transport.”

Would you live without your car?

Nevertheless, only 3% of drivers would consider getting rid of their car if their finances became more restricted, with holidays (47%), household luxuries (23%) and TV packages (12%) first on the chopping block. Given that the recent much-publicised personal insolvency legislation suggested the surrendering of a car if a person entering into such an agreement lives close to public transport links, that suggests a great deal of potential friction between banks and any of Ireland’s two-million motorists who enter an insolvency agreement.
Interestingly, may have shot itself in the foot somewhat with the survey, as it found that only 29% of those questioned thought that insurance prices were fair, while 80% of respondents had not made an insurance claim in the past five years. The combination of those figures suggests that insurance premiums remain artificially high.
Whoever is right in this instance, 86% of those questioned said that they were happy with their current provider, which suggests that they don’t really consider their costs unfair. Either that or with a similar number of respondents saying that they haven’t made a claim in the past five years, they just haven’t had enough experience of dealing with their insurer to become dissatisfied.

Motoring costs

The survey also discovered some predictable gripes about motoring, with the cost of fuel rated as the most frustrating aspect of car ownership by 73% while poor driving, a disregard for the rules of the road and a lack of respect for other road users attracted the ire of, respectively, 29%, 29% and 28% of those surveyed.
Interestingly, in spite of ever tightening household budgets, the purchase and running costs of a car came behind appreciation of the make or model when choosing a car, suggesting that Irish car buyers remain very brand loyal, or at least brand aware, when buying. That said, only 2% of respondents said that they see their car as a status symbol, suggesting either a great deal of lying or at least self-delusion.
Those aged below 25 years and above 55 years came in for the most flack when it comes to poor driving, while those aged between 35 and 44 were regarded as the best. Then again, the majority of respondents were aged between 35 and 44, so once again a certain level of self-delusion may be coming into play there.
In spite of the explosion in SUV sales in the past decade, they still make up a minority among the vehicles being driven by those surveyed. 75% of cars in the group were logged as being either hatchbacks or saloons (four-doors taking 30% of the total) with estates (8%), 4x4s (5%) and super-minis (3%) making up the balance. The classic image of the well-to-do “Soccer Mom” dropping off the kids in a hulking 4x4 is also exploded by the figures – men are 70% more likely to drive one, according to this survey.
Finally, drivers in Munster appear to be the most laid-back in the country, with only 4% of respondents from that region saying that they regard other drivers as annoying.