New figures reveal the least well off families in the UK have slipped further into transport poverty, say the RAC Foundation.
Around 800,000 car-owning households spent at least 31pc of their disposable incomes on buying and running a vehicle in 2012, the latest year for which official data is available.
In the previous year they spent 27 pc.
These very poorest families (with the lowest tenth of household incomes in the country) had a maximum weekly expenditure of £167.
Of this £167, £51.40 (31%) went on the purchase and operation of a car.
Of the £51.40:
£16.40 was spent on petrol and diesel
£9.50 on insurance
£6.10 on repairs and servicing
The high proportion of motoring expenditure by those least able to afford it is revealed in data obtained from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) by the RAC Foundation. The previously unpublished numbers were collected as part of the ONS Living Costs and Foods Survey.
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “These figures are definitive. “They give the official picture of the financial sacrifices being made by the UK’s poorest families to remain mobile.
“Even though there has been some relief at the pumps in recent months and reported falls in insurance prices, it will have done little to ease the burden on those already struggling to make ends meet.
“While record numbers of people now commute by car, including more than half of workers in the most deprived areas of the country, this data shows the cost of transport is a big hurdle to taking up employment.
“For the poorest car owners there is little opportunity to reduce their motoring costs further. “They will already be driving as little as they can and will have cut back on things like maintenance.
“Nor are they likely to be able to afford to swap their car for a newer model with better fuel economy and reliability.
“Before tax we have some of the cheapest petrol and diesel prices in Europe but when you add in fuel duty and VAT the picture changes dramatically.
“The Chancellor rightly points out that he has frozen fuel duty since March 2011 yet almost 60pc of the pump price still goes into his pocket.”
To see an interactive chart of how motoring costs have changed over the past decade relative to inflation go to:
http://www.racfoundation.org/data/cost-of-motoring-index (Source: RAC Foundation press release)
Black box helps builder get stolen van back in four hours
When builder Jarek Luszcz had his van stolen from outside his house in broad daylight on Tuesday February 11th he feared he might never see it again.
But Jarek, who runs J.L. Building Construction in Gravesend, Kent, had technology on his side as he had recently fitted RAC Telematics ‘black boxes’ to all of his vans.
He went inside, turned on his computer and logged into the RAC portal to see the Vauxhall Vivaro van’s dot on the map 30 miles away in Sittingbourne. He called the police and asked them to liaise with the RAC to track the vehicle down.
And, just four hours after the van was reported stolen, the police had located it in Victoria Road, Sittingbourne, in the exact place the RAC telematics box had tracked it to.
Police missed the vehicle the first time around – because the number plates had been changed.
But the RAC team were able to use the telematics device to direct officers to within three metres of the vehicle’s actual location. The police were then able to use the van’s unique vehicle identification number to confirm that it was Jarek’s.
Jarek, who employs nine builders, said: “I was gutted when I realised the van had been stolen from outside my house. “It had only been parked there for 45 minutes over lunchtime when it was taken.
“At first I thought it was a typical builder’s joke, but I soon realised it wasn’t.
“I hadn’t even had the van long enough to put my company name on it. “I’ve never had a vehicle stolen before so it was really upsetting, but I quickly realised I could use the telematics box’s tracking feature to find it.
“Once I called the police and asked them to work with the RAC I knew I had a great chance of getting it back.”
RAC Telematics is currently only available to business customers, but the consumer technology is to be launched later this month.
RAC Insurance director Kerry Michael said: “Telematics is the latest innovation in vehicle tracking and puts business owners in control of managing vehicles and their drivers, something which has been very much borne out in this case.”
RAC Telematics boxes, which are quick and easy to install, can provide round the clock tracking for all business vehicles, showing the routes they take and how they were driven. All the information recorded can be accessed through a web-based portal.
Companies that have installed the devices often find they promote positive driver behaviour and reduce business risks. In addition, they can lead to more fuel efficient driving, saving money on petrol and diesel costs as well as more affordable insurance premiums.
For more information on RAC Telematics visit: www.rac.co.uk/business/fleet-telematics. (Source: RAC press release)
One in ten drivers admit to autopilot
Motorists are being urged to beware of the perils of driving on autopilot following research which shows that one in ten drivers are often unable to remember their entire car journey.
The warning comes from road safety charity the Institute of Advanced Motorists following a poll of almost 1500 drivers, carried out by Vision Critical on behalf of the IAM.
The poll also revealed that 54 pc of drivers admitted to missing a turning because they were distracted. A further 14 pc of drivers are quite often unable to recall any part of their journey in the car.
Younger drivers (18-25 year olds) are the most likely to be in danger of distraction with 35 pc stating they couldn’t recall any part of their journey, often or quite often. In comparison only five pc of older drivers (65+) admitted to not remembering their journey.
Driving on autopilot appears to differ by region too. 22pc of Londoners are less likely to recall any part of their journey, compared to only 11 pc of Scottish drivers, and 10 pc of drivers in the South West.
The survey also found that this behaviour had a significant impact on performance:
The IAM offers the following advice to keep you alert on the roads:
Keep your eyes moving
Make concentrating on the road ahead your main priority
Roll down the windows for some fresh air
Plan your journey to include a stop at least once every two hours.
If you feel drowsy, stop at the next service area and stretch your legs
For longer journeys, where possible, share the driving with another driver
Make sure you drink enough fluids.
IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “It’s all too easy to get behind the wheel and zone out completely. “Being distracted enough that you miss a turning is a sign that driving is a task that has fallen too low in your brain’s priorities.
“While we all have other concerns and stresses in our lives which can take precedence in our minds, the act of driving should remain your biggest priority when behind the wheel.”
“The fact is it takes too long to react appropriately if you are not concentrating on driving. “Being distracted can have serious consequences, it could mean that you’re less likely to see that cyclist or child running out until it’s too late.” (Source: Institute of Advanced Motorists press release)