Monday, 5 November 2007

We’re not giving up our cars – apparently

Despite ever increasing fuel costs people are not being put off driving, according to a survey commissioned by insurance company esure. As with all such surveys it is not without a touch of hyperbole claiming “a massive majority of motorists in the UK (55%) would never part with their cars in favour of public transport - regardless of cost”. Now if you ask me 55% is not a massive majority, surely it is just over half.

Other interesting “facts” revealed by the survey include one in three people not monitoring the prices in their area. Just over a third of people (37%) wouldn’t consider replacing their car with something more frugal. Rather worryingly (unless you work for the oil companies or are the Chancellor of the Exchequer) 79% haven’t changed their attitude to buying fuel despite the threat of huge price rises. But what will changing buying habits do? When so much of the price of fuel at the pumps is tax retailers don’t have much room to compete on price and since people have to buy fuel there is little incentive for retailers to employ that strategy.

Mike Pickard, Head of Risk and Underwriting at esure, said: "esure's poll shows that public transport may never overtake people's preference for their own cars, whatever the cost. Nowadays, cars are clearly seen as a necessity that people refuse to give up. For many people the absence of cheap public transport means a car is essential in their lives and virtually any price will be paid for petrol.”

He has a point, the inconvenience or absence of public transport makes driving about the only way a lot of us can get to work to earn a living.

"There are simple ways that motorists can prevent their cars from guzzling up their pennies. Driving steadily and carefully, with no excessive braking or speeding, will not only give you more miles for your money, it could also reduce the likelihood of making a claim on your car insurance."

It is easy to forget that high fuel costs actually hit people twice, both in terms of personal transport and transporting the things people buy. Strange as it may sound I don’t actually object to the high level of tax levied on fuel, it is surely the fairest way to tax motoring. What would be nice is a reduction in motoring’s other costs. Perhaps esure should issue a press release promising to reduce everyone’s insurance premiums.

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