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Gridlock woes: 54% of motorists in our cities feel less safe on roads due to traffic, and blame population growth

5 min read
1 Dec 2019

With 79 per cent of Australia’s total population growth occurring in capital cities1 and 19.5 million registered motor vehicles on our roads,2 traffic is a huge concern faced by many Australians. New research has revealed more than half of motorists in major metro areas also feel less safe while travelling on our roads due to traffic congestion.

We commissioned an independent survey of 1,110 Australian motorists3 in metropolitan areas. It sought to uncover how safe commuters felt on the road and the extent to which traffic has impacted their day-to-day lives.

The findings reveal that the majority (94 per cent) of motorists have seen an increase in traffic congestion within their city in the last two years. Among these respondents, 54 per cent said they feel less safe on the roads as a consequence.

Sydney is the most congested city in the country.4 However, among those who have seen an increase in traffic, more Melbourne drivers (61 per cent) admit to feeling less safe on the roads than drivers in any other city – potentially as a result of major projects occurring in the city5 such as the Monash Freeway Upgrade and upgrading of St Kilda Road Bike Lanes. Brisbane is second in rank, with 57 per cent experiencing an increase in traffic and a feeling of uneasiness on the roads in the last two years. Sydney wasn’t too far behind at 56 per cent.

Again, contrary to popular opinion, the growth in traffic congestion in the last two years hasn’t been primarily occurring in the inner city or CBD areas. Just under a quarter (23 per cent) of drivers nationally have seen an increase in congestion in the CBD, and a further 16 per cent have seen congestion mostly in the inner-city areas.

In comparison, almost two fifths (38 per cent) of motorists have seen a rise in traffic congestion equally throughout the CBD, inner city and suburbs of their cities.

Traffic is an issue faced by many motorists on a regular basis and has led to drivers missing important commitments over the last two years, leaving them hot-headed. One in three (38 per cent) respondents (who have seen a growth in traffic congestion in their city) say they have missed meetings, appointments, flights or even entertainment and sporting events due to traffic congestion.

Population growth and new housing the biggest cause of increased traffic congestion

We also asked respondents what they think is the biggest cause of the increased traffic congestion. A whopping 54 per cent blame population growth and new housing. A further 18 per cent attribute it to more people choosing to drive due to poor public transport options, while 13 per cent say poor road infrastructure is the biggest reason.

Rod Attrill, comparethemarket.com.au spokesperson, says: “It’s concerning to see that a significant number of motorists don’t feel safe on their roads, as this could impact their confidence levels behind the wheel and potentially increase their chances of an accident. Traffic congestion is an inevitable part of driving in Australia, and research suggests congestion problems on our roads will only continue to get worse,6 with commuters spending an average of 4.5 hours a week commuting.7

“It’s important that motorists are fully protected and prepared in the event of an accident. Comprehensive car insurance is vital to protect yourself and your back pocket, with some policies including cover for the repair or replacement of your vehicle.8, 9 We highly recommend motorists review their car policies yearly to ensure their cover is still relevant to their current driving needs and that they’re on the most competitive price. You can compare more car insurance brands and products through comparethemarket.com.au than on any other website that allows you to compare both features and prices side by side so why not start today!”

Car congestion results: Whether motorists have seen an increase in traffic congestion in their city in the last two years

In the last 2 years, have you seen an increase in traffic congestion in your city?Percentage
Yes, in the city CBD, inner suburbs and greater metropolitan area38%
Yes, mostly in the city CBD area23%
Yes, mostly in the greater metropolitan area17%
Yes, mostly in the inner-city suburbs16%
No6%

Car congestion results: What respondents think is the biggest cause of increased traffic congestion, among those who have seen traffic congestion growing in their city

What do you think is the biggest cause of the increased traffic congestion?Percentage
Population growth and new housing54%
More people choosing to drive due to poor public transport options18%
Poor road infrastructure13%
Road works9%
Road incidents – such as a collisions or crashes5%
More frequent weather events (rain, lightening, flooding etc.)1%

Sources

[1] ABS 3218.0 – Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2017-18, https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/mf/3218.0
[2] ABS 9309.0 – Motor Vehicle Census, Australia, 31 Jan 2019, https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/mf/9309.0
[3] Conducted by Pure Profile – Nov 2019: Respondents either own or have access to a car and drive
[4] Australian Automobile Association, 2018, p8, https://www.aaa.asn.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/AAA-Congestion-Report-2018-FINAL.pdf
[5] State Government of Victoria, 2019, https://bigbuild.vic.gov.au/projects#
[6] Australian Automobile Association, 2018, https://www.aaa.asn.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/AAA-Congestion-Report-2018-FINAL.pdf
[7] Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic & Social Research, HILDA Survey, p82, https://melbourneinstitute.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/3127664/HILDA-Statistical-Report-2019.pdf
[8] Budget Direct, ‘Product Disclosure Statement – Part A Car Insurance Policy General Terms and Conditions’: https://ecommerce.disconline.com.au/branding/resources/BUDD/legal/car/PDSA.pdf, Huddle, ‘Car Insurance Combined Product Disclosure Statement & Financial Services Guide’: https://huddle.com.au/media/pds/Huddle-Car-Insurance-PDS-8-may-2017.pdf
[9] ING, ‘Product Disclosure Statement – Part A Car Insurance Policy General Terms and Conditions’: https://ing.disconline.com.au/branding/resources/EXIG/legal/car/PDSA.pdf, PD Insurance, ‘Motor Vehicle Insurance Combined Product Disclosure Statement and Financial Services Guide’: https://www.pd.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/PD-Insurance-Hollard-PDS-31-March-2018.pdf
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