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Survey Reveals We Do Not Understand Our Cars

Whilst searching around the daily motoring news and views I came across the news that motorists are increasingly unaware of what all the lights and information on their dashboards actually meant.

It is in some ways quite amusing, but mostly it is not surprising at all!

Cars Increasingly More Complex

Cars are becoming increasingly more complicated both under the bonnet and inside too. A number of weeks ago I was riding in the passenger seat of a new Honda Insight, and I have to say, I had absolutely no idea what the futuristic dashboard was telling me without reading the manual. Which to be honest, most people don’t.

Including my very own mother who has owned her Vauxhall Corsa for three years and only last week found out that the windows can be controlled from outside the car by holding down the buttons on the key fob to make the windows go up or down, depending on whether you are opening or locking the car, and she only found out because we were at a Vauxhall dealer looking at newer models and the salesman explained it was a feature that had been around for a while now!

Study Reveals Shocking Stats

Furthermore, a recent survey that was carried out revealed that we spend around 360 hours in our cars every year and yet nearly half of us could not name some of the basic warning lights. It would seem that men are slightly more knowledgeable than women in this area with around 39% of men being able to identify where the main beam hazard was compared to just 28% of women.

The figure that concerns me is that only 12% of women and 7% of men could point out the handbrake warning light. That is worryingly low, and the handbrake warning light, you would have thought, is quite an important thing to be aware of.

Costly Damage

By not knowing the simple warning lights, someone could potentially be driving around unaware that there is a fault with their vehicle, which could increase the likelihood of a driver having an accident, which could in turn lead to them having to pay out on an excess on a motor insurance claim if the accident is proven to be their fault. In addition, by driving around with a fault it is also likely that the issue with the car could develop and thus end up costing owners thousands of pounds more to have the problem repaired.

The moral of the story here is quite obvious: we should all take time to read our car manuals and familiarise ourselves with all aspects of the car before setting out on our first drive in a newly purchased car. Whilst some people may indeed not be too interested in the particular features of a car, it is still very important to know what all the lights on the dashboard mean!

Fuel Prices to Remain Constant

If you are a keen motoring enthusiast, like we are here, then you probably won’t have missed the news regarding fuel prices recently. Well the latest on this issue is that the government has now decided to further postpone the scheduled three pence rise in fuel duty that was intended for January.

A Welcome Change

This announcement, which has been welcomed by motorists across the UK, was part of the Autumn Statement by Chancellor George Osborne. He also announced that the planned rise of 5p in August has been lowered to 3p. So, expect fuel prices to remain fairly constant for at least the next eight months!

Of course fuel prices will still vary from one location to another, just driving home I see variances of two pence from one borough to the next, however, we can’t exactly stop companies from competing with one another.

Mr Osborne’s statement has also explained that taxes on petrol will be 10 pence lower in August 2012 than they would have been as a result of action taken in this year’s Budget. This will, hopefully, see families saving around £144 on average next year. A sizeable saving for sure!

Roads to Improve

Further pleasing news for us motorists was that the National Infrastructure Plan was announced. This is the plan to improve roads, rail and airports among other things. £5 billion of additional public spending will reportedly be pumped into more than 500 projects over the coming years.

The big improvements for the roads are, currently, likely to be upgrades to the M1 and the M6 in the Midlands as well as the Bristol link road and the A380 bypass in the South West. The toll charge for the Humber Bridge that connects Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire will also be halved. The cost will therefore be £1.50 for a single crossing instead of the rather extortionate price we have to pay now.

The price it costs these days to run a car from day to day is quite astonishing, especially if you add it all up, not forgetting motor insurance quotes of course, along with road tax, car maintenance and services, and of course, fuel! It is at least pleasing and quite relieving to see that the government are, to some extent, helping us out. Long may that continue, and hopefully they will do a u-turn on the proposed price increase in August.

Cost of motoring roars ahead

The recent report issued by the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) on the cost of running a car in the UK today, is enough to make anyone think twice before they get a motor insurance quote.

Fuel duty the main cause

According to the nationally recognised motoring group the price motorists pay to go about their business using a car has spiralled in the last 12 months. It will come as no surprise at all to motorists that driving is more expensive than ever before but the RAC reckon costs have increased by a massive 14% in the last year. The increases seem to cover every aspect of motoring but it is the fuel price that seems to have crippled long term motorists the most. This time last year petrol and diesel both cost less than £1.20 a litre, today drivers are paying on average £1.34 and £1.40 respectively. Fuel has risen in price by around 12%.

Motor insurance policies averaging over £500

The other big increase has come via car insurance cover. Unbelievably the average cost of a car insurance policy is now £550, up 14% on the year but up by over 30% on the prices in 2009. Insurance companies say the increases are due to the steep rise in personal injury claims more than anything else but say insurance fraud and uninsured drivers also play a big part in bumping the price up.

Running costs racing ahead

Overall the RAC estimate the average cost of running a car is now £6,500 a year or about £520 a month. This of course would make a massive hole in anyone’s pay packet, let alone those who are out of work or retired. The figures compared to those of four years ago show an increase of over 20% and this remember in a period of recession and austerity. Many workers have not had a wage rise since 2007 which makes the impact of high motoring costs even harder to bear.

Golden age of motoring finished

There really is little many drivers can do about the situation; fuel consumption is certainly down showing that people are cutting out unnecessary journeys. Car ownership is also down suggesting the middle classes are now managing without the “family run-around”, but in truth the golden age of motoring may well be over. Probably illustrated no better than the fact that only just over 1000 electric vehicles have been sold in the UK this year. Surely a nation keen to avoid the fuel prices imposed on them by the Government and oil companies would have flocked to the new breed of cars by now.

Motoring groups opposed to change in MoT system

Road Safety Minister, Mike Penning, is coming under increased pressure from motoring groups to think again about proposed changes to the Ministry of Transport compulsory car safety test known as the MoT.

Test been in place for 50 years

For almost 50 years there has been little change to the MoT test and motorists in the UK have known from the moment they take out motor vehicle insurance, their car must pass its MoT every year after its third birthday to stay on the road. Costs associated with the MoT have, in line with all other motoring costs, shot up over the last few years and so many motorists will be relieved that the incumbent Government propose changes to the system that will save them a few pounds.

Car manufacture has radically improved

The Government are looking at proposals to change several key elements of the test as they claim car manufacture today is radically different to that of the 1960s. When the tests were introduced the materials in vehicle construction were inferior to those today, vastly improved car safety measures along with super strong engine parts and bodywork mean that cars should not have their first MoT until they are four years old and then only need a bi-annual test until they are ten years old according to Government advisers.

Motoring bodies opposed to change

The proposals are not as popular as one would have thought; in fact 25 organisations with close links to the motor industry have united to form a pressure group to get the transport minister to change his mind. The companies include such high profile names as the AA, RAC, road safety campaigners BRAKE and insurance giant Aviva. Opposition to the change is based on safety issues, many people in the industry point out that an MoT is the only time many cars are checked for safety faults and this includes basic checks such as tyres, windscreen wipers and lights. Road safety campaigners believe a reduction in testing could lead to over 200 extra road deaths in the UK each year and point out that European countries impressed by the road accident figures in the UK are currently looking to emulate our present system because it works so well.

Price to pay

The group also believe the new measures will make even the cheapest car insurance more expensive than it is at the moment and point out that reduction in the number of MoTs will inevitably mean less mechanics are needed at garages and therefore job losses in the industry are assured.

Ever increasing cost of motoring threatening village life in the UK

The impact of soaring fuel prices is threatening the very existence of rural life in the UK according to statistics revealed in a Royal Automobile Club (RAC) survey of its members this week.

Car journeys coming under scrutiny

The RAC report that members living in rural landscapes are finding the twin blows of expensive fuel and soaring motor vehicle insurance threatening their way of life. Almost 9 out of 10 said they were dependant on their car to carry out normal activities such as shopping, working and visiting relatives but half of them admitted to cutting back on journeys due to the expense involved.

Problem acute in Devon and Cornwall

The south west of England is particularly badly hit with most of the region being rural. Many residents rely on visits to towns and cities such as Truro, Barnstable and Exeter to work and shop. A daily commute can easily involve a one hundred mile drive for many workers. The survey revealed that 30% of rural dwellers said that the nearest bus or train station was too far away to use as reliable transport, which was 10 times more than urban respondents.

Local investment preferred to national schemes

Unfortunately it seems the fabric of rural life will be affected as many of those asked said that visits to relatives were the visits most likely to be omitted from their routine, with the ferrying of children to after school activities also coming under pressure. Although many of those questioned admitted they had used a train instead of a car when possible in the last 12 months, there was little support for expensive Government transport initiatives such as the much vaunted high speed train link between the South East and the Midlands. Almost nine out of ten said they would prefer the Transport Department to spend more money on maintaining the highways and the local roads that were often difficult to negotiate in winter, and failing that improve local rail services rather than lines aimed at business.

Environmental issues taking a back seat

The expensive motoring costs have also impacted on motorist’s perception of protecting the environment, with 30% saying they would only buy a “greener” vehicle if it gave them cheap car insurance cover and was more economical on petrol.