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Surge pricing: Aussie parents providing $20bn worth of free rides

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Australian parents are spending millions of hours a year driving around their kids, according to new research by Finder.

According to Finder's Parenting Report 2021, which surveyed 1,033 Aussie parents of children under 12, parents are spending 3.5 hours a week on average behind the wheel.

That's equivalent to a staggering 182 hours a year on the road – collectively more than 600 million hours – chauffeuring kids to school activities and playdates, among other things.

Based on the average hourly earnings of Uber drivers, parents are collectively providing $19.9 billion worth of free rides per year – substantially larger than Australia's rideshare industry.

The research shows 1 in 6 parents (17%) spend 5-10 hours a week driving their children around, while 1 in 12 parents (8%) spend a whopping 10 hours or more.

Kate Browne, personal finance expert at Finder, said many parents feel like a taxi service for their kids.

"Parents are often driving hundreds of kilometres a week with kids having more commitments than most adults.

"The car has become a second home – with the amount of time some parents are spending on the road absolutely mind boggling."

Parents in Western Australia spend the most time giving their kids lifts (3 hours and 48 minutes), followed by Queensland (3 hours and 42 minutes).

The data shows that leisure activities (64%), school (60%), sports (50%), playdates (47%) and birthday parties (45%) were the biggest time offenders.

Browne said spending so much time driving kids around can be expensive.

"Parents should check to see whether they might be eligible for government subsidies.

"For example, Queensland has a School Transport Assistance Scheme, NSW has The School Drive Subsidy (SDS), and for Victorians, there's the Conveyance Allowance Program.

"In some cases, you could be reimbursed with hundreds of dollars for just one school year.

"Also be sure to shop around for cheaper fuel and car insurance and carpool with local families where you can."

Earlier this year, Finder analysed the cost of owning a car – including petrol, registration and insurance – and found that those driving smaller cars and getting a good deal on insurance spend around $3,413 per year on average.

Meanwhile those driving larger cars typically spend more on insurance, fuel and registration, costing $7,963 per year on average – a difference of 133%.

Finder has compiled a list of the cheapest cars in Australia for fuel, insurance and servicing costs.

How many hours do you (and/or your partner) spend driving your child/children around in a typical week?% of parents
Under 1 hour per week14%
1-2 hours27%
2-5 hours29%
5-10 hours17%
10-15 hours5%
15-20 hours2%
More than 20 hours per week1%
I/we don't drive my child/children around4%
I/we don't have a car2%
Source: Finder Parenting Report 2021 of 1,033 parents with children under 12 in July 2021
Where do you drive your child/children (not in lockdown)?%
Leisure (park, beach)64%
Birthday parties45%
Music/dance/drama lessons20%
Source: Finder Parenting Report 2021 of 1,033 parents with children under 12 in July 2021

Whether you're looking to switch insurers or find cover for a new car, Finder's step-by-step guide helps you easily compare and find the right car insurance policy for you.

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