High fuel price – driving is not less, but slower

In 2022, fuel prices in Austria rose massively, topping the 2-euro mark for the first time. In a detailed study on this topic, the Invenium Data Insights team used anonymized mobile phone data to analyze for the ÖAMTC what impact this additional burden had on motorized private transport.

Using November 2019 as the reference month, anonymized mobile data from more than three million devices per day from the A1 Telekom Austria network was used to evaluate the mobility behaviour of Austrians in 2021 and 2022. Travel distance, speed and use of public transport were analysed.

The study shows that 2022 fuel prices, which in some cases have skyrocketed, have not led to any significant decline in driving distances. Instead, the results show how influential the Corona pandemic and the resulting effects – especially quarantine, home office and virtual communication – were in this context. And still are – because compared to 2019, overall driving distances decreased by nearly six percent. As of September 2022, values were approaching those of November 2019 again, despite still expensive fuels. This is an indication of an increased return to work from the home office – presumably also in response to rising costs for electricity and heating.

It is exciting that in the summer of 2022, for the first time, a reduction in speed due to the increase in fuel prices is evident. Drivers are therefore well aware that they can save fuel by adapting their driving style. Since September 2022, on the other hand, drivers have been driving somewhat faster again – although still below the average speed of 2019. The reasons for this are the increase in commuter traffic, slightly falling prices at the gas pumps, and a certain degree of familiarization with the high cost of fuel.

Furthermore, the study also shows an increase in public transport use compared to 2019, but this is mainly due to business trips on weekdays and leisure trips at the weekend. This is a sign that the climate ticket is having a visible effect here.

The contribution of ÖAMTC to the study can be found here.

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