May 27, 2011

Nobody enjoys being run off the road – except perhaps those weirdos J G Ballard wrote that book about. Bankstone News certainly didn’t enjoy being (nearly) run off the Wandsworth one-way system by Michael Bright’s Independent Battle Bus back in the day. Other road users of all shapes and sizes are a perennial hazard for UK motorists. But according to former Level 42 bass thwapper Mark King writing in the Guardian, people are being driven off the road by some pretty odd things these days.

“Motorists driven off the road by petrol, potholes and premiums,” the headline starkly states. UK drivers, the Klaus Kinski lookalike reports, are experiencing something close to the “total dissatisfaction” of which Mick Jagger used to complain even further back in the mists of popular musical history.

According to a survey by motors.co.uk, 82% of drivers are fed up with the cost of fuel and insurance and the state of Britain’s roads, and one in three has cut back on their motor vehicle usage as a result. But many more are having trouble scaling back their internal combustion dependency – with worrying implications for the future of British society.

King quotes monkeysupermarket’s head of banking Kevin Mountebank, who says: “Consumers are having to deal with pay freezes, which means their incomes are being reduced in real terms. Many families will feel like their finances are approaching breaking point.” Car use is a big part of the problem, it seems.

The rising cost of petrol is fuelling a new wave of personal insolvencies, as consumers who cannot or will not give up driving around all over the place put petrol pump payments on credit cards, then struggle to clear their balances. “It now costs £67.90 to fill a car with a 50-litre tank with unleaded petrol,” King claims, “and Credit Action says this is one reason why it received 8,004 new debt problems every working day last month.”

A report by Equifax, he writes, found that a third of those paying for fuel on plastic are clearing less than 25% of their balance at the end of each month, and 10% are only making the minimum repayment. Now watch as debtors’ prisons fill and the roads of Britain empty. On the plus side, there should be fewer other road users to worry about being driven off the road by. But watch out for those potholes!


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