AA/Populus Panel

Love affair with the car continues

4 August 2008

A man cleaning a car

Three per cent of male drivers would consider giving up their wife or partner rather than their car, according to new figures from an AA/Populus panel survey of 18,547 AA members released today.

The results from the UK's biggest dedicated motoring panel show that drivers are still very dependent on their cars. Two per cent of females would also consider ditching their husband or boyfriend rather than their car.

Other things that AA members would consider giving up rather than the car were:

  • Drinking – 15%
  • Holiday – 15%
  • Flat screen TV – 14%
  • Smoking – 11%
  • Favourite food – 7%
  • Pet – 4%
  • Computer – 3%
  • Job – 3%
  • Spouse/partner – 3%
  • Favourite pastime – 2%
  • None – 24%

Pet hates

Despite this addiction to the car the behaviour of other drivers is still an irritation. Worries about safety featured in the top two hates with tailgating (driving too close to the car in front) cited by 30%, closely followed by talking on the mobile phone whilst driving cited by 26%.

Other pet hates were:

  • Middle lane hogs – 20%
  • Slow drivers – 6%
  • Swoopers (cutting across motorway lanes at the last minute) – 5%
  • Undertakers (undertaking on the inside) – 4%
  • Speeders – 4%
  • Litter bugs – 3%

Enjoy driving

But even with these reservations, 82% of AA members still enjoy driving.

Indeed 50% of males and 44% females strongly agreed with the statement "I enjoy driving". Amazingly only 1% strongly disagreed with the statement.

Indeed 79% of drivers stated that they could not imagine life without their car with just 3% disagreeing strongly with this.

AA comment

Commenting, Edmund King, AA president said: "So despite the doom and gloom over high fuel prices, increases in Road Tax or indeed the unsafe antics of tailgaters, mobile phone abusers and middle lane hogs, the vast majority of motorists still enjoy driving and cannot imagine life without the car.

"Indeed a small minority of fanatics would give up the wife, job or pet before the car. The message here for national and local government is we need to learn to live with the car rather than constantly try to restrict its use.

"Too many local authorities assume that the best thing to do is price or restrict the car off the road – this just alienates drivers rather than accommodate them. Of course, we must reduce congestion and the environmental impact of cars but this is best done through conciliation rather than alienation."

Regional results

  • Drivers aged 18-34 were more likely to strongly agree that they enjoy driving compared to older drivers
  • Drivers in Northern Ireland, West Midlands and Wales were most likely to strongly agree with the statement "I cannot imagine life with out my car"
  • Drivers in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Yorkshire/Humberside were most likely to strongly agree with the statement "I enjoy driving"
  • More drivers in Wales would consider giving up drinking rather than the car than in other regions
  • More drivers in the East Midlands and London would consider giving up smoking rather than their car than in other regions.


This AA Populus panel poll of 18,547 AA members was conducted between 23 May and 2 June 2008

AA Public Affairs - the voice of UK motorists


04 August 2008