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4 car family

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  • David Ceaser
    here s a depressing one for the file david http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/3982553.stm Rise of the four-car family By Susannah Cullinane BBC News Not long
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 7, 2004
      here's a depressing one for the file


      Rise of the four-car family
      By Susannah Cullinane
      BBC News

      Not long ago the two-car household was the last word
      in suburban affluence. But changing lifestyles and a
      fall in car prices have given rise to what used to be
      seen as an American phenomenon: the three- and
      four-car family.

      With upwards of 24 million cars on the road and
      traffic jams an everyday reality for many of us, it
      already seems that British motorists have reached
      breaking point on the roads.

      But the trend towards car ownership shows little sign
      of slowing down and new research reveals one of the
      big growth areas is among older children who have yet
      to fly the family nest.

      One in five British homes with 17-21-year-olds living
      at home is classified as a four-car household,
      according to new research. Almost half the 500
      households questioned for the Zurich Insurance survey
      had three cars.

      The trend is being driven by a number of changing
      factors in family life, coupled with a fall in new car

      Last year the Prudential financial services group
      published a survey saying 6.8 million British parents
      had children aged 18 or more who were still living at

      1955 Cadillac
      Cars used to be for polishing
      But while grown-up children are often reluctant to cut
      the apron strings - particularly in light of the
      rising cost of attending university away from their
      home towns - their parents are less likely to be
      prepared to act as a shuttle service.

      As a compromise parents are increasingly expected to
      buy-off their children with a car. More than 40% of
      cars being driven by 17-21-year-olds are gifts from

      The Automobile Association believes rising incomes and
      a fall in the cost of cars has contributed to the
      trend, along with more women driving.

      "I think the family unit certainly isn't as strong as
      it used to be and I think people are leading
      increasingly independent lives," says the AA's Gavin

      Research by the AA Trust in 1998 showed car use was 14
      times greater than in the 1950s and the use of buses
      had halved.

      "Many people are having to commute further and further
      for work and given the sometimes unreliable nature of
      the public transport options (if any exist) this often
      necessitates the use of a car, fuelling the growth in
      multi-car households."

      Traffic jam
      The new look 'family day out'
      So who are these multi-car households?

      Ian Crowder, 55, who lives in the Cotswold countryside
      near Cheltenham, Glos, and is head of a four-car
      family, says relying on public transport would be

      Mr Crowder says he needs a car because he works 100
      miles from home in Farnborough, staying nearby during
      the working week: "My wife is a community midwife so
      she needs a car to go from appointment to appointment.

      "My stepson Mike (22) is doing a gap year from his
      marketing degree in Bristol and he's working his gap
      year with an estate agency, so he needs his car, and
      my step-daughter Melanie (20) uses a car to get to and
      from work," he says.

      "If you asked her she'd say it gives her independence
      and it takes her half the time to get to work."

      Cheltenham used to be well catered for when it came to
      public transport - at one time it had five railway
      stations, but that has been reduced to one. Meanwhile,
      the villages the trains used to serve have grown into
      small towns.

      Echoes of America

      It's all a far cry from his formative years. As a
      child he and his father - a schoolteacher - both
      cycled to school in Hampshire and the family didn't
      have a car.

      "The culture was different in those times - I think
      most people used to use public transport or use
      shank's pony."

      So, as we shift to multiple-car families, are we
      destined to become another America - all spaghetti
      junction and no footpaths?

      The Department for Transport says it recognises car
      ownership is attractive and that it is likely to
      increase over the next 30 years.

      "With nearly two million extra people in work, more
      people are travelling every day and as people become
      better off - so they have more reasons to travel," a
      spokesperson says.

      It said it is investing in efficient transport options
      that are environmentally friendly.

      "We're planning ahead to meet increased demand and
      we're better managing the traffic already on our roads
      to ensure we have a reliable and free-flowing
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