Fleet News

Tax increases fail to cut use of cars, survey finds

ANNUAL Government increases in fuel tax is failing to stop motorists from driving their cars, according to new AA research. Since 1988 the price of a gallon of unleaded petrol has increased from 165.2p to 300p with the tax take increasing from 61.8% to 81.6%.

Since 1994 pump prices have risen at 5-6% above inflation, but the AA survey reveals that just 128 motorists out of 435 had tried to reduce their fuel bill. The survey by NOP comes just two weeks after Fleet NewsNet highlighted how fleets are paying the highest fuel prices in Europe, despite the fact that when taxes are stripped away the actual cost of the fuel is the lowest.

Only about one in five motorists have not used their car to save petrol, either cancelling a journey or using alternative transport. AA chief engineer David Lang said: 'The vast majority of motorists simply cut back on some other item to absorb extra petrol costs. It seems strange that motorists find it easier to disrupt and curb their lifestyles than to change their driving behaviour, such as cutting high speeds or moderating acceleration and braking. Phased hikes in petrol duty, supposedly intended to encourage fuel economy, have crept in with little or no effect on driving habits.'

The AA claims that driving at 70mph instead of 85mph over 10 miles saves the same amount of fuel as clocking up a two- to three-mile round trip to the corner shop or local school. Lang said: 'Better driving habits and new technology will have a much greater impact on the environment than big hikes in motoring taxation that give comparatively little return.'

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