Lisa Markwell: When it comes to talk, the journey is the destination

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The Independent Online

In this week's "no s**t Sherlock" news, we learn that parents spend up to a combined 100 hours a month ferrying their children around by car. To the AA, who compiled the survey, I say: this is, well, not actually news to those of us who are parents.

It has long been established as part of the child-rearing deal that weekend plans must be fitted in around flamenco lessons across town and getting a little 'un to the soft-play centre behind the superstore five miles round the ring road for a party – from which they'll emerge hoarse and sticky clutching a mystery balloon mammal.

For the mother or father with one eye on the gauge showing £70-worth of petrol evaporating as they sit in traffic, and the other looking out for police as they consider a time-saving illegal left turn, every minute of those 50 hours is keenly felt, if not enjoyed. (Although I don't have much sympathy for those who choose to drive their children to a school within a mile of their home.)

There are, however, a few major upsides to the car journey. One magical advantage was pointed out to me by a social worker: children tend to talk more freely in a car. There's something about the combination of contained space and lack of eye contact that makes them feel safe – hitherto hidden information and deep-seated worries come tumbling out. I've been known to keep driving for ages in ever increasing circuits to keep a conversation going. It didn't do much for the environment, but it worked wonders on a tricky school situation.

Then there's the potential for time away from the dread screens. Keeping the car a laptop/iPhone /DVD player-free zone means there's ample time for a group listen to an improving audiobook, or a rattle through troublesome times tables (I find the central locking mechanism helps in this particular endeavour).

My children are a bit old for all that but I do maintain that on-the-road conversations are invaluable – it's just the subjects that have changed, from primary-school bullies to curfews and college options.

But what of the BBC staff who have just started doing the four-hour round trip each day from London to Salford? Could they benefit from a family-style drive?

Just imagine the issues of the day that could be thrashed out if they car-pooled, instead of the rumoured 13,500 train and 190 plane journeys that staff take... Only 46 per cent of staff have relocated, so that's a lot of travelling. I'd love BBC Breakfast's Susanna Reid, pictured, to get behind the wheel like a harried mum and find out what's really on the minds of her sofa guests...