Cars Eat Time

People think that the car is a great time-saver, but it depends on what you measure. In 1974, Ivan Illich wrote about the amount of time spent by the average American on his car. In 2006 Lyn Sloman applied the same logic to the average Brit.

"The typical car owning Briton today devotes nearly 1,300 hours a year to his or her car. It takes him over 500 hours to earn the money first to buy the car and then to pay for petrol, insurance, repairs and parking. He spends another 400 hours every year sitting in his car while it goes and while it waits in traffic jams. More than 250 hours are devoted to a myriad small tasks associated with a car: washing it, taking it to the garage for repair, filling it with petrol, looking for the car keys and walking to the car, de-icing the windscreen in winter, and finding a parking space at the end of every trip. Finally, he has to work about 100 hours every year to earn the money to pay the extra building society interest because he has chosen a house with a garage rather than one without. All in all, the typical British car driver in 2005 devoted three and a half of his sixteen waking hours to his car." 

But surely it's worth it? Public transport takes forever compared with going by car. Not true: research shows that people consistently under-estimate the time taken for car journeys, and over-estimate the time taken by using public transport. Think about your own journeys and consider the results.

When Top Gear Is The Slowest

In autumn 2007, Top Gear, the tv programme of choice for the four wheeled fundamentalist, did a test by pitting four modes of transport against each other to get from Kew in West London to the London City Airport. The Hamster went by push-bike, The Stig used public transport, May used "the Chelsea-ist of Chelsea tractors" (a gross Mercedes 4wd) and Clarkson steamed along in a 70mph speedboat. The result? Hammond got there first, just pipping river-borne Clarkson, followed by The bus n'tube Stig, and, last, came the 4wd. On Top Gear! I rest my case....

Time Waits For No-one

Time is the one resource we cannot expand. When you are driving, you are wasting that precious time: you just can't do anything else - unless you'd like to get noticed by PC Plod. So, do you really want to devote your precious time to a car? 

It's your time, and it's your life. Give up your car, and start getting it back.

Source: Lyn Sloman, Carsick, Green Books, Dartington, 2006