The UK languishes near bottom of list of European countries which have acted to ease the burden of high fuel prices, claims new RAC research.
Motorists in the UK are paying as as much as 20p more per litre of petrol than drivers in France, for instance.
Out of 13 EU countries that have cut tax on petrol in order to ease the spiralling costs faced by drivers every time they fill up, only one – Luxembourg – has done less than the UK Government, with a duty cut in April worth the equivalent of 4.52p compared to the 5p duty cut announced at the UK Budget in March.
It’s a similar picture for diesel, with only Croatia doing less for its drivers than the UK, with a cut worth 4.5p.
The UK Government’s intervention back in the Spring looks paltry when compared to most other European nations, with Germany taking the equivalent of 25p a litre in tax off per litre of petrol on 1 June, Italy 21p, Portugal 16p and both Ireland and the Netherlands nearly 15p.
In addition, as an alternative to cutting fuel duty, governments of other countries in the EU have introduced fuel discounts at forecourt tills with Spain taking off 20 cents (about 17p) and France 18 cents (about 15p), while some fuel retailers including TotalEnergies in France and BP Spain have discounts running of up to 40 cents per litre (about 33p).
Of the remaining 15 EU states that haven’t taken steps to lower pump prices since March, all but six already charge less fuel duty than the UK even after the UK cut fuel duty by 5p in March’s Spring Statement, and almost all are cheaper at the pumps.
Although UK pump prices have finally started to fall in recent days – after significant pressure from the RAC on retailers to reflect the fact wholesale fuel costs have been falling for seven straight weeks – the average price of a litre of both petrol and diesel is well above the current EU averages of 159p and 161p respectively.
The UK is currently the joint-second most expensive country when it comes to the average cost of a litre of petrol (186p) – behind only Finland (190p) with Denmark also at 186p – and the second most expensive for diesel at 195p per litre, with only Sweden charging more (201p).
At the end of January the Highway Code hit the headlines after a major update came into force, affecting all road users and pedestrians.
The new measures aim to protect cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders when using or in close proximity to UK roads. They also aim to make the roads safer for vulnerable users by creating a hierarchy, which clarifies pedestrian and cyclist priority and establishes safer overtaking practices.
With this in mind, we’ve teamed up with Nationwide Vehicle Contracts to highlight the eight key changes and what they mean for us all.
1. Hierarchy of road users
To ensure the safety of the most vulnerable road users, a new hierarchy will be implemented to protect them and reduce the number of collisions on UK roads.
The new hierarchy when on the road is as followed:
Vans, minibuses, large passenger vehicles or courier vehicles (eg HGVs and buses)
2. Give way to pedestrians waiting at junctions
When pedestrians are crossing a road or junction, motorists should now give way to them. Even if the pedestrian hasn’t started crossing the road, motorists should give way to those who are waiting.
When approaching a zebra crossing, motorists, cyclists and those riding motorcycles should give way to pedestrians at the crossing, whereas at a parallel crossing motorists should give way to cyclists and pedestrians.
3. New guidance on shared spaces between pedestrians, horse riders and cyclists
People who are riding a horse, walking or driving a horse-drawn vehicle, should be aware of their surroundings and the safety of pedestrians.
People who are cycling are asked to not pass pedestrians and horse riders at a fast speed or at close proximity. They are also asked to slow down when necessary and make people aware of their presence by ringing their bell, but to keep in mind that people may be deaf or partially sighted. New rules also mean cyclists should not pass on the left-hand side of a horse.
4. New cyclist positioning on the road
Cyclists must now ride in the centre of their lane whilst cycling on quiet roads with slower-moving traffic, and also when approaching junctions or road narrowings. Whilst cycling on roads, bike riders now must keep at least 0.5 metres from the kerb edge on busy roads where vehicles are moving faster than them. When cycling past parked vehicles, cyclists should keep a one-metre distance and be aware of people walking into their path.
For cyclists who are cycling in groups, they can now cycle two abreast, as it can be safer when cycling in larger groups and with less experienced riders. They must allow cars to overtake them when it is safe to do so.
5. Safer overtaking when driving
When driving a vehicle, you may now cross a double white line if necessary and the road is clear to overtake a cyclist or horse if they are travelling at 10mph or less.
When overtaking cyclists 1.5 metres minimum must be left between the vehicle and cyclist going up to 30mph to give them more space. When passing horses, motorists must leave at least two metres of space. If motorists are driving by pedestrians walking on the road (no pavement), two metres should be left between the pedestrian and vehicle and speed should be dropped.
6. Cyclists priority near junctions
Cyclists are encouraged to use the small cycle traffic lights to make their journey safer. If cycling on roads that do not have this facility, it is recommended that cyclists proceed as though they are driving a vehicle, therefore should make themselves as visible as possible and avoid being overtaken where they deem it to be dangerous. Additionally, at a junction, going straight, cyclists now have the right of way.
7. Priority when at roundabouts
When at a roundabout, those driving a vehicle or motorcycle should not attempt to overtake people cycling within their lane, and should also allow cyclists to move across the roundabout when travelling around.
8. Charging, parking and leaving vehicle changes
‘Dutch Reach’ is the new technique being implemented when opening doors. Drivers and passengers should now open their car doors using the hand opposite to the side to the door they are opening – for example, using your right hand to open a door on the left-hand side of the vehicle. This is so when opening the door the person is looking at their shoulder, making them less likely to cause injury to cyclists, motorcyclists and people on the pavement.
When electric vehicle owners are charging their cars, they should park close to the charge point to stop pedestrians from tripping over cables. They should also display a warning sign if possible and return charging cables to reduce danger and obstacles to other people.
“The new Highway Code changes are essential to the safety of all road users and pedestrians,” said Keith Hawes, Director of Nationwide Vehicle Contracts.
“As many of the rules in The Highway Code are legal requirements, it is important that all motorists keep up-to-date with the changes. Disobeying the rules can be a criminal offence which can lead to points on your licence, fines, driving bans and in the worst-case scenario, imprisonment.”
One in six motorists are self-conscious of their car and almost half feel their motor deserves more care than it’s currently given, according to a new study of 2,000 drivers.
More than a third are simply embarrassed by the mess their car is in, 41 per cent reckon they are “terrible” at washing their motor, while 54 per cent are left red-faced by the scuffs and scrapes they’ve accumulated over the years.
“We’re so reliant on our vehicles yet they don’t always get the care they deserve,” said Dominika Smolinska from car care product company Armor All, which commissioned the study.
“This research has given us a very interesting insight into what makes people feel embarrassed about their cars – however, one thing people are in control of is cleaning their vehicle.”
Top 10 reasons drivers are embarrassed about their cars
Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who’s worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.
Travelling in the snow, reversing around a corner and overtaking cyclists are among the most uncomfortable scenarios for motorists, new research has revealed.
A study of 2,000 drivers by flexible car insurance firm Cuvva found one in 10 dislikes or hates driving and nearly a quarter (24%) feel less confident now than they before the pandemic as a result of driving less over the last 18 months, with 16% going as far as to say they have ‘forgotten’ how to drive.
Top 25 things drivers feel most uncomfortable doing
Driving in snowy conditions
Driving in a new town or city
Roads where there are lots of lanes and you need to be in the right one
Driving in the dark
Driving in wet and rainy conditions
Areas where there is lots of traffic
Areas where there are lots of children (e.g. near schools)
Areas where there are lots of pedestrians
Turning into a road on the right, and having to cross the traffic
Reversing around a corner
Giving someone else a lift
Having to turn right at a roundabout
Having to do a three-point turn
The study also found 29 per cent of drivers try to avoid travelling outside of their local area to stay away from unfamiliar roads.
And a quarter are reluctant to give other people lifts – even if they are going to the same destination – due to their nerves.
Nearly one in five would take a longer route to avoid busy areas (18%) while 16% would go further than needed to stay away from motorways.
Others would plan their journey to avoid having to parallel park (12%), dual carriageways (7%) and roundabouts (7%).
Almost a fifth of drivers are also nervous about the prospect of long-distance journeys as the nation prepares for a summer of staycations, with 21% even planning their break around the length of the drive.