Parenting responsibilities in the context of children’s mobility have been subject to a substantial change over the last few decades. Children’s current activities and travel patterns are significantly different to the previous generations when they were at the same age. Today’s children are exposed to increased car use and are chauffeured for the majority of their trips. A range of social and environmental factors have contributed to the formation of these travel patterns which include the changing societal perceptions of safety (traffic and stranger danger), easy access to cars, increased income levels, higher employment rates for women, increased number of trips children undertake due to contemporary lifestyles and the built environment conditions that privilege private car usage over other travel modes. Social issues associated with reduced independent mobility of children have been highlighted by previous research. However, the environmental cost of these lifestyles have been researched to a lesser degree.
Based on the preliminary findings of an ongoing major research project, this paper delves further into the environmental cost of ‘parental taxis’ through examination of 53 parental surveys regarding travel patterns to and from extra-curricular activities. The paper aims to produce an evidence base surrounding the environmental cost of the parental car dependent lifestyles of today’s children and their families. The findings exhibit a large number of round trips (both during the week and on the weekend) to educational destinations other than school for 10 to 13 year old children. These figures highlight the significant potential for carbon emission reduction through the conversion of some of these trips to non-car modes.