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To drive or not to drive, that is the question: generation Y research

This is a guest post from Dr Debbie Hopkins, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Otago – she’s currently doing some research for the NZTA on non-drivers. Read on to find out more and see if you might be keen to help out with the research by being interviewed.

Every day we make decisions about how we travel. These decisions include whether to go somewhere, where to go and how to get there. While we have some control over how we travel, there are a whole range of things that we might not have much control over that influence our travel decisions, such as where we live, access to public transport, and family commitments.

And these influences have changed over time.

For the past 100 years or so, the car has been the main way that people travel. Nowadays, our towns are designed to help people drive cars – large shopping centres with parking, direct routes for main roads – but sometimes this means that people without cars are left out. It can also mean that our urban areas might not be nice, safe places for people to walk or cycle. This has meant that for many people, car travel is preferred, so driver licensing, car ownership and distance travelled have all been increasing.

But it seems that things might be changing. In the past decade, there has been increasing evidence that generation Y – people born between 1980 and 2000 – are travelling in different ways and not wanting to travel by car as much as earlier generations. Industrialised countries including the USA, Canada, the UK, Sweden, Norway, Japan and Australia have all reported declining licensing amongst the 18-35 age group. Young people are also less likely to own a car and if they do own a car, they are travelling less.

We can make assumptions to explain why young people are travelling differently, but this isn’t very helpful… it is important to actually know for sure what is making this change happen. This could help policymakers and planners to design transport systems which better suit the needs of young people.

The Energy Cultures research project (www.energyculture.org) is conducting research to find out more. Dr Debbie Hopkins is looking for non-drivers from Auckland, who are willing to be interviewed about their travel behaviours. This would include people who might have a licence but don’t need/ want to drive, or people without a licence at all.

Participants need to be:

  • Aged 18-35 years old
  • New Zealand resident
  • Living in Auckland
  • Grown up in Auckland (especially ages 14-18)
  • Non-drivers (either with a licence but not driving, or without a licence)

Participants will be put into a draw to win one NZ$100 supermarket voucher.

If you, or someone you know, fit the criteria please contact: Debbie.hopkins@otago.ac.nz

Flyer

10 comments to To drive or not to drive, that is the question: generation Y research

  • Interesting reasesrch but how do you define ‘doesn’t drive?’. Doesn’t drive routinely, regularly or at all? How long since last behind the wheel?

    I don’t have my own car and don’t drive regularly, haven’t driven in months but if the occasion arose I would have no qualms about doing so and driving every day this week.

    Do you have to chose not to drive, or can you not drive through circumstance? I don’t exactly chose to not drive, I just don’t need to most of the time.

    Sorry to be nit picky but I used to do behavioural research like this so I’m interested in the premise. People without a licence seems straightforward but for “non-drivers” with a licence you might be excluding a lot of people who can drive, do have a licence, do drive on the odd occasion.. but don’t do it routinely as part of their day to day life. Our discussions on this blog suggest to me there are more in the category of ‘non practising drivers’ than those that ‘never drive’.

    Happy to participate if suitable, I meet the other criteria.

  • Dan Knox

    Boo, I meet all of the criteria except that I grew up in the Wairarapa!

  • Greg N

    Even don’t have a license is a pretty broad one too.
    “No license” so “don’t drive” because:

    You can’t afford the lessons and/or no access to a suitable car and/or no time to learn, and/or can’t afford the money for the actual examinations needed to get one (and keep one)?
    Or because you don’t actually think licenses are needed but you drive anyway? [there is a lot of those in some parts of Auckland according to the Police conducting roadside checks]
    Or you never learned and now wish you had?
    Or simply don’t see a future in needing to drive?

    A lot of variation there.

    How about a related project, ask all those who currently have drivers licenses and who live in Auckland about how many would “prefer not to drive” but do so through lack of alternative choices
    – especially those who grew up outside Auckland and didn’t drive then but now do drive, now they live there.

    I’d put my hand up for that one.

  • DamianS

    I don’t quite qualify, but what qualifies as non-driving. I drive a work car about twice a week, and am a passenger about twice more. Am I non-driving?

  • Dave B (Wellington)

    Not right to say that, “For the past 100 years or so, the car has been the main way that people travel.”

    In 1920 there were hardly any cars. They didn’t seriously start to ramp up till the 1950’s, and even then it was a long time before any notion of “universal car ownership” was reached.

    http://transportblog.co.nz/2011/06/06/population-cars-and-public-transport-use-1920-2011/

  • Why only exclusive non-drivers? What about true multi-modal transport users?

    I drive when it is the most optimal form of travel given time of day, weather, traffic, origin and destination, and accompanying equipment needing transporting. That’s the car only about 1/4 to 1/3 of the time.

  • Dave B (Wellington)

    Why cut off at 35? Those of us who resisted car OWNERSHIP all through the car-besotted 70’s and 80’s might also have a story worth listening to!

  • Christopher T

    Don’t fit the age criterion but don’t drive; rarely have. There’s been little need to do so as I left Auckland in 1980 for places with decent public transport. Since I was required to return, 6 years back, things have improved to the point that I still don’t need to succumb to doing something that’s anathema to me.

  • I fit the criteria, I’m in. Thanks for posting this, Transport Blog.

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