Why we’re spending more time in our parked cars during lockdown

It is no secret that we spend a lot of time in our cars. Commuting to work, weekends away with the family, and ‘big shops’ to the supermarket mean that the car almost becomes a second home for many of us. When lockdown was introduced, tighter restrictions were placed on where and when we can go out, so you would assume that we’re using our cars less, right? But for many, the parked car outside the house has become a solitary get away from the busy outside world, even if it’s stationary and in full view of your family and friends. Here, Autowise’s Russell Gardner explains the reason why so many of us have chosen to retreat to the car, and why it’s connected to the current pandemic.

‘Despite the amount of time we spend behind the wheel, many of us actually enjoy it. True, the congestion and traffic aren’t on anyone’s Top 5 things about driving list, but when people think about cars, then instinctively think about the freedom it gives them. Typically, we tend to spend a whopping 63 hours a year commuting to work, 35 hours driving to meet friends and family, and 33 hours traveling back and forth from the supermarket (motorists spend 293 hours a year in their car). So why are more and more people during Lockdown choosing to spend extra time in their cars?’

‘Before lockdown, 59% of drivers claimed that driving offered them a greater opportunity to think on things, and lockdown has only increased this, with 67% of drivers stating that their car is their personal happy space. Because of the stress of lockdown, and the claustrophobic nature of being stuck indoors all day, more than 20% of drivers are finding new uses for their parked cars, from listening to music, watching films, or just relaxing with some quiet time. The parked car has almost become the new shed at the back of the garden – a getaway space where you can retreat and be left alone, except a car has speakers and heating. That’s not to say that everyone who wants to escape to their car hates their home life. People tend to crave their own space, and with everyone working from home and getting in each other’s ways, it’s understandable that everyone needs a bit of alone time.’

‘For many working from home, the living room has become a new office space. For 8 hours a day people are working in the location that that was once considered a relaxing zone. I’m not going to claim it’s forever tainted, and you’ll never been able to destress on your sofa again, but there is a reason that 22% of people are cleaning their cars more regularly during lockdown – for a lot of people, it’s their new comfort zone. A place where you can collect your thoughts when on a break from the spreadsheets and videocalls.’

‘Originally the phenomenon of sitting in a parked car was due to non-essential travel being restricted, so why has it continued while travel bans have been lifted? Well, it seems cars are hugely significant to our lives, whether we’re driving them or not, and for many, they’ve become a part of us. A car signifies freedom, a sense that you can go anywhere if you wanted, so sitting in it puts you back in control (or back in the driving seat) during a time when many people have had their control taken away from them. Sitting behind the wheel brings an air for familiarity to an uncertain time, and that’s probably the why reason car sales are up 27% following the most extreme months of lockdown’.

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