The over 50s are playing an increasingly active role when it comes to motoring in the UK, owning more cars and spending more than ever on keeping on the road says a report.
The research carried out by the CEBR on behalf of Saga Motor Insurance shows that over 50s now account for nearly half of all spending on motor transport and that this spend is increasing faster than that of people under 50.
The over 50s spend on average £57 a week on motor transport, this has grown some 48% since 2000, whereas spending by the under 50s has grown just 32% over the same period.
Car ownership has surged in the over 75s
This growth in spending is partially down to us living healthier and more active lives for longer; there has been a surge in car ownership among the over 75s, 56% of over 75s own a car today, compared to 37% in 2000.
On average, the over 50s drive 7,270 miles a year* and spend £23 a week on fuel.
Read our guide to driving after you turn 70.
Driving keeps us socially active
While many over 50s are still in work, the reason for the majority of car journeys they make are for essential every day activities, such as shopping and to carry out personal business.
As well as being essential for keeping the over 50 economically active, cars also play a key role in keeping them socially active as well. The third most common reason for the over 60s to get behind the wheel is to visit friends and the biggest growing reason for travel for the over 50s is to go on a holiday or short trip.
Read our tips for driving long distances.
Driving contributes to the economy
Further research of this age group has shown just how vital having a car is to them and the economy. The over 50s say that their spending on food and other shopping, entertainment and eating out, would decrease dramatically if they were unable to drive - a quarter would do their food shopping less frequently and four in ten would reduce the number of trips they made for other shopping such as clothes and items for the home. Trips to the cinema would be cut by a third and 17% would take less holidays, 37% would eat out less as would even fewer over 80s (45%).
As well as the economic effect, the social effect on people over 50 should not be underestimated. A third of people said they would see their friends and family less often if they couldn’t drive, rising to 40% of people in their 80s.
Read eight ways to save money on your motoring.
Saga calls for the abolition of car tax
Roger Ramsden, CEO, Saga Services, commented: “The research has shown how vital it is to keep people driving for as long as possible, driving gives people greater independence to do the things they enjoy and to keep them socially and economically active.
“We currently insure over half a million people in their 70s 80s and 90s and it is fantastic to see that more people are staying behind the wheel for much longer."
He added: “However, there is more that can be done to make it more affordable for people to drive for longer. Saga is calling for the government to abolish vehicle tax and instead pass on the equivalent amount via fuel tax, this will make it fairer for many older people who drive fewer miles, but for whom continuing to drive is essential.
“Collectively, the over 70s would save £300 million from this move. The average driver over 50 would save £20.70 per year and the average driver over 70 would save £84.70."
*Populus interviewed 10,015 adults, all aged 50+, online between 15 and 22 January 2015.