Research by Allianz Australia has revealed the extent to which COVID-19 changed the way Australians used their cars in 2020.
According to the research, 74 per cent of Australians experienced a change in their commuting times. Previous peak commuting times packed Australian roads from 8 to 9 am and from 4 to 5 pm. However, during the pandemic, workers were out later in the morning and earlier in the evening: 9 to 10am and 2 to 3 pm.
The shift in timings supports the sharp increase in 4.3 million Australians adapting to a work-from-home lifestyle since March 2020, with 35 per cent of workers who made these changes believing they will continue to work from home for some time.
“COVID-19 has had an incredible impact on the way we live our lives day-to-day,” said James Fitzpatrick, Chief Technical Officer of Allianz Australia. “Many Aussies’ traditional car usage and commuting behaviours have changed, from the time of day we’re travelling to how long we’re driving for.”
Despite spending less time commuting, Allianz says the emotional value cars hold for Australians has increased. According to the research, 21 per cent of respondents claim their car is more important to them post COVID-19, 16 per cent claim they could not live without their car, and 22 per cent say their car makes them feel safer. This rises for those aged 55 to 64, with 31 per cent claiming they feel safest from infection when in their car, indicating the car is providing a much-valued safety bubble when out and about.
During lockdown, cars were also appreciated as an escape bubble, with 42 per cent of respondents saying they liked driving during the pandemic because of the sense of normality, routine, freedom or time away from the house that it provided them. In addition, 44 per cent of parents used their vehicles as a quiet space from home during lockdown, and 29 per cent admitted to using their cars to escape the kids.
According to Allianz, many respondents believe these changes will continue throughout 2021 and beyond. Fifty-three per cent think COVID-19 will change driving habits for the foreseeable future, while 16.6 per cent think it will change driving habits forever. The vast majority (88 per cent) also believe public transport will need to undergo changes to make it safer.