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MOToring along: The lives of cars seen through licensing and test data

Cairns, Sally; Anable, Jillian; Chatterton, Tim; Wilson, Eddie; Morton, Craig


Sally Cairns

Jillian Anable

Tim Chatterton

Eddie Wilson

Craig Morton


For the past few years, the authors of this report have applied their expertise in transport studies, mathematical modelling, emissions analytics, statistics and geography to undertake innovative analysis of a dataset consisting of all registered light-duty vehicles in Great Britain and their annual mileages.
Box 1 explains how this dataset has been created from two different sources to provide a unique information resource. It comprises a database of over 30 million vehicles in any given year. Statistical analysis of this database at the vehicle level allows for exploration of relationships between a large number of vehicle characteristics such as age, body type, changes in keepership, registered location and levels of vehicle usage – all of which was previously impossible. The dynamics of the car fleet can also be examined longitudinally,
and monitored on an ongoing basis as the data comes on stream each year.
In this report, we focus on analysis at the area level for one year: 2011. The data allows vehicles and their annual mileages to be attributed to the location of the registered keeper. When linked with other data about each local area such as the economic and demographic profiles, the availability of public
transport, collision rates and even the weather, it is possible to generate original insights about the distribution of cars, motorcycles, vans and other light duty vehicles, and about how the fleet and its usage varies across the country.
In these uncertain times of changing vehicle purchasing patterns, possible shifts in attitudes to travel and in actual travel behaviour amongst younger generations, and the rapid growth in van traffic, this work has the potential to contribute to many policy and business objectives.

In this report, we offer a selection of some of the topic areas we have investigated in our research to date. Whilst there is significant technical detail behind the generation of the MOT dataset and many of the additional variables that we have linked with it from sources such as the Census, we concentrate here on some key findings and why we believe these are novel and important. Technical details are saved for the final section of this report and in the further publications from the research team, which are detailed in the references section.


Cairns, S., Anable, J., Chatterton, T., Wilson, E., & Morton, C. (2017). MOToring along: The lives of cars seen through licensing and test data

Report Type Technical Report
Publication Date Nov 16, 2017
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords vehicles, cars, emissions, environment, transport, air pollution, emissions, ownership, mileage, spatial,
Publisher URL
Additional Information Corporate Creators : RAC Foundation


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