Revealed: we are now driving more than we did before the recession
But analysis remains unclear about why we are putting up the extra kilometres
A new study shows we are driving more now than we did before the recession.
And while the rise is not dramatic - around 1,500km a year or 30km a week extra - it may partially explain why we are experiencing increasing instances of gridlock. The figures state the obvious: there are likely to be more cars on the roads at any given time.
According to the analysis by vehicle-history expert Cartell.ie, the average 'annualised mileage' travelled in a car of five years or younger this year is 21,028km. That is an increase of 7.1pc over the equivalent figure for 2008 (19,635km).
What exactly the figures signify is open to debate but they do tend to reflect what we see and endure most days on our roads.
Cartell.ie compared the average annual mileage (in 2008) of private cars registered between 2003 and 2008.
They contrasted those results with the average annual mileage in post-recession 2016 of private cars registered between 2011 and 2016.
The figures showed that our newer cars are being driven more - 1,398km on average. That is an extra two-to-three fills of the fuel tank in an average car.
The study considered various reasons for the increased driving but says there are no clear-cut answers.
One argument is that there has been a big shift towards diesel between 2011 and 2016, suggesting some people bought those cars to cover longer journeys in the course of their work or family motoring.
Another suggestion is that two-car-households may be using the newer cars for longer journeys as they are more economical.
John Byrne of Cartell.ie says: "It's difficult to say with certainty why we're seeing an increase. Possibly the buying trend towards diesel engines has encouraged buyers to use their car more, buoyed by the fact costs are relatively lower."
Other reasons, surely, have to do with the pick-up in the economy, an increase in those now at work and those who commute to it. And fuel prices have dipped.
The latest analysis comes in the wake of an investigation by the Irish Independent which found that almost 159,000 vehicles a day now use Dublin's M50 (up 6,300 on the corresponding period for 2015).
The study said rush-hour traffic can last from 7am to 10am and 3pm to 7pm. Commuters are leaving for work an hour earlier due to the number of vehicles on the roads.
* Are you driving more? Why? ecunningham @independent.ie