‘We have no choice’: Soaring petrol prices pushing people off the road, claims Manchester motoring expert

By Neil Robertson

Soaring petrol prices are forcing drivers off the roads and putting people off learning to drive altogether, according to a Greater Manchester motoring expert.

The price of petrol per litre has increased by 55% over the last 10 years, a recent study has revealed.

Roy Sammons, chairman of the Bolton Institute of Advanced Motorists, says this increase has an effect on everybody’s life, and will continue to do so.

“The price of fuel applies to absolutely everything we do, from supermarket deliveries to farmers,” he said.

“There’s no doubt that the cost of running a car has begun to outweigh all other costs.

“I think what’s happened is everybody has become tolerant – basically, we’ve got no choice. I’m not surprised at these figures, but I’m disappointed.”

The pump price in pence per litre has risen from 74 pence in June 2003 to 140 pence last month.

Despite this, the price of petrol in parts of Greater Manchester is just under 132 pence per litre – three pence below the current national average.

This alarming rise in petrol prices makes driving impossible for many, according to Mr Sammons.

“If it becomes a choice between driving or putting food on the table, then obviously the car is the luxury that has to go.

“I don’t know what can be done, or what the government can do. There’s always a lot of talk, but not much action.”

Mr Sammons warned that less and less people are learning to drive as a result of petrol price increases.

“I wonder how some of the driving schools are making a living at the moment.

“If the learners aren’t out there, the instructors aren’t going to bother renewing their licence every four years.”

Department for Transport Statistics show that the number of vehicles registered for the first time in Britain has fallen from 3.25 million in 2003 to just under 2.47 million in 2012.  

In addition, the 12-month rolling average of cars registered for the first time in Great Britain has dropped by 25% over the last 10 years.

The hidden prices of oil markets, suppliers and speculators mean that consumers have no choice to pay these prices, according to Mr Sammons.

“We don’t know what we should be paying so we don’t know who to pressurise – we don’t know how to pressurise.

“The government and Fair Trading Standards could probably do a bit more, but whether they want to I’m not sure.

“I don’t think that we, the members of the public, can do anything at all – you either put up or shut up.”

Gary Whittle, Publicity Officer for the Bolton branch of The Institute for Advanced Motorists, argued that driving has become a less sociable activity since these price increases. 

 “You used to go for a drive with your Dad, but nowadays people just don’t do this,” he said.

“People don’t seem to want to drive anymore. We have seen less and less people learning to drive since petrol prices have gone up.

“Unfortunately there is nothing we can do, all we can hope is that people continue to want to drive, despite these high prices.”

Picture courtesy of Rama, with thanks.

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