Amid the gloom, good news. Even with fuel price rises, running a car is cheaper.
Even with the current surge in fuel prices, motoring now costs far less than it did 20 years ago. Research by the RAC for its Annual Report on Motoring shows that, allowing for inflation, it is now 18% cheaper to own a car than it was in 1988.
While the cost of a gallon of fuel has risen by 210% over the period, outstripping inflation, the relative price of owning and servicing a car has fallen dramatically. As a measure of how things have changed, the RAC reveals that, 20 years ago, its survey named the Ford Capri as the car most drivers wanted. Now their sights are set higher, with Audi, BMW and Mercedes rating as the most desirable makes.
Predictably, the cost of fuel is the issue that most drivers now focus on. But the report shows that becoming a victim of road rage worries drivers more than congestion, speed cameras or roadworks.
Almost one in three of the motorists the RAC polled said they’d suffered driving behaviour that left them feeling physically threatened. Yet almost half admitted that they’d shouted, sworn or made rude gestures at others.
Adrian Tink of the RAC said: ‘As numbers of cars and drivers on our roads increase, so will the frustrations that lead to aggressive driver behaviour, unless we all make a conscious effort to respect our fellow motorists.’
The report shows we are becoming increasingly impatient. Four of five drivers say others following too close behind is a major cause of motoring stress, while three-quarters say they are worried by others chatting on their mobiles at the wheel. Half said drivers who went too slowly, or who wouldn’t pull over to the left lane on motorways wound them up most.
An overwhelming 9 of 10 drivers said Britain had become a car dependent society, and 1 in 10 confessed that they never walk anywhere. Despite this, annual mileage has dropped from just over 10,000 two decades ago to 9000 today.
Three-quarters of those polled supported a reduction in the drink-drive limit to 50mg of alcohol, in line with most other European countries.
The RAC is calling for better education for drivers, in the hope that this will help us all calm down. The motoring organisation also wants a reduction in drive/drive limits and, finally, an increased police presence on roads to deter aggressive behaviour.
Have you experienced road rage? Vote in our poll here