At the same time there has been continued growth in the number of households with access to two or more cars, from around 2 per cent in the 1950s to more than 30 per cent in 2008.
The number of journeys made by public transport has risen slightly since the 1990s from around six to seven billion, but is still well below the 12 billion figure of the 1960s.
Richard George, from the Campaign for Better Transport, said the rising trend towards bigger engines showed improved engine efficiency was not persuading people to slim down in their choice of car.
‘The style of vehicle people are buying does not reflect the type of journeys they are making. You might need a bigger engine if you are towing a caravan but not for driving to Tesco,’ said George.
He said only by increasing the cost of motoring (which the ONS statistics revealed had fallen over the past decade) and making cars a less attractive alternative to public transport and walking could you tackle the trend.
The statistics also revealed that the number of primary school children walking to school had fallen below 50 per cent.