67% of schoolchildren travel by car

[25 September] Following the peak of driving activity during the school summer holidays, we’re seeing traffic figures dip slightly as life returns to a normal routine, bound by school pick-ups, drop offs and commutes. The weekly average shows an increase in driving activity of 2%, with peak activity occurring on Friday 18th September, at 47% above baseline.

The enhanced efforts to contain the virus in Northern Ireland has largely affected our social lives, with restrictions on visits to private homes. Wet pubs have reopened this week, and other hospitality venues and shops remain open as normal.

School traffic remains high

Additionally, schools and colleges are also open, and students have returned to university campuses, boosting the population in these areas. School traffic in Northern Ireland accounts for a significant number of vehicles (and those of us who enjoy a quicker summer commute are testament to this). According to the Department for Infrastructure Continuous Household Survey (2018/19), 67% of primary school pupils arrive at school by car, and 38% of post-primary pupils.

22% of primary pupils and 14% of secondary pupils walk to school, most common in urban environments where OOH displays are plentiful. In fact, we work hard to ensure young audiences are protected from unsuitable campaigns, so have all schools in NI mapped, so targeting the school route would be simple and effective.

Using TomTom congestion data, there is minimal change in the traffic levels in Belfast through the latter half of the week, suggesting the further restrictions haven’t impacted mobility. This data shows that the morning and afternoon rush hours are still slightly lower than 2019, however weekend travel is unaffected YoY.

Throughout the last few months, we’ve been tracking mobility around a number of locations, including parks and grocery shops, using Google data. Currently some data is suspended, however pedestrian activity around workplaces is reported below. Weekly fluctuations caused by a large proportion of the population working Monday – Friday are still evident, however the weekly average shows growth of 4%, bringing the overall figure to 68%. This shows that although there is still advice to work from home, two thirds of the baseline audience still found in places of work.