• In England, around 58% of people who currently commute to work using a private vehicle believe that it would be difficult to find an alternative mode of transport.

This chart shows the share of people who commuted using private transport (predominantly car, but also van, motorcycle or scooter) in England in 2018, and who would find it difficult to commute by an alternative form of transport if they were unable to make the journey by private vehicle. Estimates are broken down by age, region and occupation.

Car use can impact health in a number of ways. The high cost of car maintenance can place pressure on resources for low-income households, limiting spend on health-supporting goods or activities and creating financial hardship. A lack of access to a car can limit job opportunities and income potential. Car use also contributes to higher levels of air and noise pollution, as well as physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour, all of which are linked to poorer health.

In England, 58% of commuters travelling to work by private transport (usually a car) would find it difficult to travel to work without their vehicle. This share varies by population groups.

  • Drivers aged 50–59 years (62%) are more likely than those aged 17–20 years (45%) to be dependent on their private vehicle.
  • Around 65% of drivers in East of England say they would struggle to reach their jobs without a private mode of transport, compared with just 34% of drivers in London.
  • Drivers in skilled non-manual jobs are least likely to say that they are dependent on their private vehicle (52%), while those in skilled manual jobs are most likely to say that they are dependent on their private vehicle (65%).

The extent to which people depend on their private vehicle is partly determined by the availability and quality of public transport services, as well as journey times, the cost of travel and information availability.

Car dependence can limit job opportunities and have other adverse impacts on health. A lack of quality alternatives to private transport can be addressed by greater investment in public and active transport.

  • A private vehicle is defined as a car, van, motorcycle, scooter or moped.

Source: Department of Transport, National Travel Survey, 2018

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This is part of Evidence hub: What drives health inequalities?

Data, insights and analysis exploring how the circumstances in which we live shape our health