12 July 2021

Across a series of RAC member surveys spanning a year, we reveal some interesting insights into how people are commuting and just how long we spend in our cars.

There is no doubt that Western Australians are still very much connected to their vehicles. When we asked RAC members how they commuted to and from work or study, 89 per cent said they drove for either the full journey or at least part of it.

Looking at the overall responses to weekly commuting times, we calculated that WA drivers spend an average of about one month of their lives each year just sitting in a car. That means in an average lifetime as a driver you'll spend about 5.5 years behind the wheel.

That figure is even higher if you include the amount of time you would have spent as a passenger in a vehicle in the years before you became a driver.

Even in a big state like WA where cars remain the main mode of transport, that figure is still surprising.

Perth traffic peak hour

RELATED: WA's car supply shortage »

On average in WA, you will be a driver or passenger in a car for 12hr 12min per week - the equivalent of 26.5 days per year spent in a car (full 24-hour days).

For regional members the average is a little higher. Those who live in regional areas are a driver or passenger in a car for about 12hr 54min per week – the equivalent of 28 days per year spent in a car.

And for regular peak hour commuters, the figures are even higher again.

Those who drive or are a passenger in a car in peak hour for five or more days a week (35 per cent of those surveyed) on average spend 15hr 42min hours per week on the road, which is the equivalent of 34 days per year of sitting in a car.

These figures include time spent commuting to work or study and also for non-work purposes.

How we commute

How do you get to work or study?

  1. 89% drive a car
  2. 11% catch the train
  3. 11% walk
  4. 7% catch the bus
  5. 7% cycle

(Note: Some respondents nominated more than one mode of travel)

58% said driving was their preferred way to commute.

View from behind car steering wheel

Congestion and commuting times

The average daily commuting time was 30 minutes.

For those living in regional areas, the average commuting time was 25 minutes.

In Perth, for regular peak hour drivers, 38 minutes was the average commuting time.

For both regular peak hour drivers in Perth and those living in regional areas, 42 minutes was the average maximum amount of time they would be willing to spend commuting.

46% of commuters said that sitting in congestion caused them stress and negatively impacted their wellbeing.

Public transport

65% of regular peak hour drivers said they would use public transport more often if it was more affordable.

43% of respondents said they ‘needed their car’. This means 5 in 10 choose not to use public transport. Reasons include the availability of services they need (24%), proximity to those services (7%), preferring other transport modes (5%) as well as cost, safety, travel time, comfort or reliability.

$30 is the maximum amount respondents think they should have to pay per week for public transport.

86% support cheaper off-peak fares (including weekends).

Perth train commuters

What would it take to increase the use of public transport?

If there were better connections to public transport services to centres outside the CBD, 55 per cent of those surveyed said they would be likely or very likely to use public transport more often.

Improved access to train stations, such as more bus feeder services and better walking and cycling access between services along with improved security measures at public transport stations, were also key changes that would encourage more use of public transport.

Considering an EV? Get a discount on your car loan interest rate.

Get 0.50% p.a. off your car loan interest rate when you buy an electric vehicle.

Find out more

T&Cs: Discount applies to fully electric new and used vehicles, excludes Hybrid vehicles. Offer is subject to RAC Finance Lending Terms and Conditions. Fees and charges apply. Australian Credit Licence 387972.