Is there nothing that has not been impacted by the pandemic? The distance travelled by passenger vehicles, motor cycles and buses fell markedly during the natural disasters and Covid-19 pandemic experienced across Australia in 2019/20.
This is according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures released this week.
“During the periods of floods, bushfires and Covid, passenger vehicle usage across Australia decreased [significantly],” said Rob Walter, Director of Physical Environment Statistical Solutions at the ABS.
We drove 1,500km less this year
“The average distance travelled by Australian passenger vehicles in 2020 was 11,100 km, down from 12,600km in 2018.”
In other words, it equates to an average decrease of 1,500km, which is similar to driving from Adelaide to Sydney and then on to Newcastle.
Although the distance travelled by Australia’s passenger vehicles fell this year, the estimated number of vehicles registered rose markedly, from 19-million in 2018 to 19.8-million in 2020.
But road freight kept on growing
For the road freight industry, though, the good news is that despite the social and economic challenges that Australians faced this year, road freight remained strong.
“Road freight [grew] to more than 223-billion tonne-kilometres, with Australia’s 4-million freight vehicles continuing to criss-cross our nation’s highways, even when the rest of us couldn’t,” Walter noted.
At the state and territory level, New South Wales continues to lead the nation in road kilometres travelled by all vehicles, with over 69-billion kilometres of travel undertaken.
The Northern Territory, with its long distances and relatively light virus restrictions, unsurprisingly led the states and territories for average kilometres per vehicle at 12,500km.
Driving during lockdown fell 26.1%
For the first time, the ABS has also publishing sub-annual data in the Survey of Annual Motor Vehicle Use, allowing a more detailed understanding of how the pandemic has affected vehicle usage.
“When we compare the July to October period of 2019 with the March to June period of 2020, we see an unprecedented 26.1 percent fall in the distance driven by Australians,” said Walter.
“Again, the most pronounced falls were seen in passenger vehicles as opposed to freight vehicles.”