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Thousands cut food spending to keep cars on road
According to new research from a driver Satisfaction survey of 2,669 adults across the UK by car search website Motors.co.uk, almost a third of motorists said that they had been forced to cut back on their weekly grocery shop in exchange for keeping their cars on the road.
This is to cover mainly the costs of petrol and car insurance on a daily basis.
To put this into figures, a litre of petrol cost an average of 96.98p in June 2007, compared to 132.20p in July 2012, according to the AA, and according to price comparison website Confused.com's quarterly car insurance price index, the average cost of a comprehensive policy stood at £797 at the end of June 2012, compared to £506 in 2007.
In fact, 79% of drivers responding to the Driver Satisfation survey said they were dealing with these rises in motoring costs by making significant changes to their day-to-day lifestyle. In last year’s poll (2011) this figure was 54%.
Motoring cost burden
It looks like the recession has finally shown its teeth to the general consumer base as these findings suggest that the cost of motoring has become a bigger burden on driver's pockets in the last 12 months.
It’s not just cutting back on food that drivers are doing – although it should be noted that it is costs that they are cutting back on rather than not actually eating; which is good news for Lidl and Aldi and bad news for Waitrose and Marks & Spencer. 30% had reduced gym visits (or ditch membership completely) and 44% were reducing costs by driving less.
Of those driving less, 20% had defected to public transport, 32% to Shanks’s pony (that’s ‘walking’ for the younger readers of this) and 5% cycling – although that is likely to rise post-Olympics.
Car ownership will change too with around 10% saying that they will be trading in their motor for a more cost-efficient car. and 3% getting rid of it (or their second car) to drive down motoring costs.
Phill Jones, commercial director of Motors.co.uk, said: "Families, couples and first-time drivers are increasingly frustrated at the amount they now have to pay for owning a car.
"Unreasonable changes to the costs of driving and car ownership throughout 2011 and the early part of 2012 have left consumers feeling short-changed. It is essential that something drastic is done to revitalise this flailing, but pivotal, driver of the British economy."
The survey also revealed an unsurprising rising discontent among drivers towards the government. Despite August’s planned fuel duty hike being postponed until the New Year, 71% of consumers still feel that government policies are not on the side of the motorist.
They are worried that fuel will rise even higher along with the costs of car insurance as companies try to squeeze more money from a rapidly-emptying consumer purse
And the research also revealed growing driver dissatisfaction with local government and a lack on investment in roads with 71% 0f motorists unhappy with council controlled issues such as potholes and local roadworks, up from 51% in 2011.
Phill Jones added: "The government may well have taken a well advised U-turn on the planned rise in fuel duty, however it is clear from these results that this move is too little, too late. Not only are drivers tired of the cost of driving, they’re exhausted by the state of the roads - maintenance of which has badly fallen by the wayside.
"The number of consumers cutting back on driving is frankly alarming, and it is imperative that both the government and local councils do all they can to get Britain back on the roads."
Basically, drivers are not a happy bunch at the moment and, although the majority aren’t jumping up and down with joy at the current state of affairs, regional differences are apparent.
Scottish drivers were the most unhappy with the state of roads in their area with 90% disgruntled with local highway maintenance.
Meanwhile, 57% of Scots were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with road closures and roadworks, and 39% unhappy with levels of congestion and traffic on local roads. Basically, the Scots weren’t at all happy.
The state of local roads in London, including road maintenance and potholes, rode high on the list of concerns of inhabitants of the UK capital, with 47% expressing concern.
Not too good then Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg. Probably an F on your school report for Road Matters.
Now, do we really need to look at the Economics mark?