It’s official – UK has most expensive diesel in Europe

Gareth Herincx

21 mins ago
Auto News

Service station, May 2024

The average price of diesel at UK pumps is now higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to new data from the RAC.

Despite the current 5p-a-litre fuel duty discount introduced in March 2022, the average price of 155p is 5p more expensive than both Ireland and Belgium, for instance.

Although duty on both petrol and diesel was cut from 57.95p to 52.95p in spring 2022 to ease the burden of rapidly rising fuel prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the UK still has the highest rate of duty on diesel in Europe alongside Italy.

Despite this, diesel in Italy is still currently 7p cheaper than the UK, at an average of 148p a litre

France’s duty rate is only the equivalent of a penny lower than the UK (52p) but its average price for diesel is 9p less at 146p.

“Having the most expensive diesel in Europe despite the current 5p duty cut is a very dubious honour,” said RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams.

“This is explained by RAC Fuel Watch calculations which show the average retailer margin on diesel – that’s the difference between the delivered wholesale price and the retail price before VAT – is 18p. That’s a shocking 10p more than the long-term average of 8p.

“We can see no good reason why retailers in Great Britain aren’t cutting their prices at the pumps.

“It’s important to note that in Northern Ireland, where there is greater competition for fuels in the absence of supermarket dominance, the average price of diesel is just 144.9p – 10p less than the UK average, and petrol is 6p cheaper at 142.4p.”

By way of comparison, the UK’s petrol is only the 11th most expensive in Europe at an average of 149p. The priciest petrol can be found in Denmark at an average of 175p. That said, duty in Denmark is far higher than in the UK – the equivalent of 59p, with VAT at 25%.

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Most drivers think headlights are too bright

Headlights glare

New research has found that 85% of motorists think the problem of headlight glare is getting worse.

An RAC survey of 2,000 drivers found a huge nine-in-10 (89%) think at least some headlights on cars on the road today are too bright, of which three-in-10 (28%) – a higher proportion than ever – think most are.

Of the all these drivers who complain about the brightness of car headlights, some 91% say they get dazzled when driving with three-quarters (74%) saying this happens regularly.

The RAC is now calling on the Government to commission an independent study into the issue of headlight glare after the research also found that 85% of those affected believe the problem is getting worse.

When it comes to the effects of glare on drivers, two-in-three (67%) who suffer say they have to slow down considerably until they can see clearly again, while a similar proportion (64%) believe some headlights are so bright they risk causing accidents. In fact, five per cent of these drivers state they have nearly been involved in a collision themselves.

Alarmingly, nearly one-in-10 (7%) say they find headlight glare so bad that they avoid driving at night altogether, a figure that rises to 14% for drivers aged 65 and over.

As part of its study, the RAC asked drivers to estimate how long it takes them to see clearly again after getting dazzled by other drivers’ lights, while 68% say it takes between one and five seconds, one-in-10 (11%) say it takes six or more – which, staggeringly, is enough for a driver travelling at 60mph to cover 160 metres, the equivalent of 40 car lengths.

The reasons drivers perceive headlight glare to be such an issue are less clear, although an overwhelming 87% of dazzled drivers think it is mainly due to the fact some lights just appear much brighter.

This could be as a result of the increasing prevalence of cars fitted with LED headlights, leading to a much more intense and focused beam that the human eye reacts differently to, compared to a conventional ‘yellower’ halogen bulb. While LED headlights are great for improving a driver’s view of the road ahead, this can be to the detriment of other road users who encounter them.

However, more than four-in-10 (44%) think the dazzling is caused by badly aligned headlights.

The increasing popularity of cars that sit higher on the road, especially SUVs, may also be a factor with those in conventional cars such as hatchbacks, saloons or estates suffering the most.

Government collision statistics shows that since 2013, there has been an average of 280 collisions a year where dazzling headlights were a contributory factor. Of these, six a year involved someone losing their life. The actual number may be higher if an investigation was unable to determine whether or not a collision was directly or indirectly caused by the glare from another vehicle’s headlights.

End of an era: Just 3% of new cars come with a spare wheel

Gareth Herincx

14 hours ago
Auto News

Flat tyre

A review of 313 new cars across 28 brands by the RAC found that just eight models came with a spare wheel as standard.

The trend means there are an increasing number of breakdowns where drivers need help in the event of a unrepairable flat tyre.

The dramatic decline of the spare wheel has had a stark effect on RAC breakdown call-out volumes with patrols going out to nearly 200,000 jobs last year where drivers experienced a puncture but found they had no spare wheel (up from around 165,000 in 2018).

And the situation is not going to change with the advent of electric vehicles either, with cars needing to use the space that in some cases was once the home of the humble spare wheel to accommodate battery packs.

Spare wheels have increasingly fallen out of favour with car manufacturers as tougher legislation demanded that they do all they can to reduce emissions.

With a spare wheel easily adding up to 20kg to the overall weight of a vehicle, removing them from the standard list of equipment supplied with a new car has been an easy change for manufacturers to make to increase fuel efficiency.

space saver spare wheel

“Getting a puncture on a journey has to be one of the most irritating breakdowns for drivers, especially if it’s as a result of hitting one of the plethora of potholes that currently characterise so many of our roads,” said RAC Breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis.

“In the past, a driver could have reached for the spare wheel in the boot but this new analysis shows that these are now pretty much a thing of the past, with a minuscule number of new cars sold in the UK coming with one as standard.

“Interestingly, in many cases drivers ordering a new car can still buy a spare wheel – whether that’s a full-size one or the more common lightweight ‘space saver’ type – as an optional extra. This might turn out to be a wise investment if you are one of the many drivers who unfortunately suffers a puncture.”

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Worst speed limit breakers: Cars, vans or lorries?

Gareth Herincx

3 hours ago
Auto News

30mph speed signs

Half (50%) of car drivers broke the speed limit on 30mph roads in 2022 compared to 45% on motorways and 11% on national speed limit single carriageway roads, according to new data from the Department for Transport.

The DfT figures also revealed that 48% of vans exceeded the speed limit on motorways compared to 51% on 30mph roads.

However, only 2% of articulated HGVs exceeded the speed limit on motorways, compared to 35% on national speed limit single carriageway roads and 39% on 30mph roads.

Motorway traffic

“It’s concerning to see that every year half of drivers exceed the limit on 30mph roads, with more than a fifth (22%) last year driving more than five miles an hour too fast,” said the RAC’s Simon Williams.

“The implications of speeding on these roads is likely to be greater than on faster roads, not least as they’re generally in areas with more pedestrians and cyclists.

“One possible explanation for why speed limit compliance is so much worse compared to other roads is that drivers may be used to looking for speed limit signs, which are much less prevalent on 30mph roads as generally speaking the presence of streetlights indicates the limit is 30mph.

“While drivers should know this, perhaps there is a case for the use of more ‘repeater’ signs in 30mph areas so there is no doubt.”

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Be prepared for the big Easter getaway

Gareth Herincx

3 days ago
Auto News

Motorway traffic

Drivers are set to embark on up to 17 million leisure trips by car this Easter bank holiday, with Good Friday and Easter Sunday set to see the largest number of journeys made.

Research by the RAC and data from transport analytics experts INRIX suggests there may be long delays in parts of the south and west of the UK.

Good Friday could turn out to be a ‘bad’ Friday for drivers this year, with an estimated 2.7 million ‘getaway’ trips expected that day.

The A303 westbound near Stonehenge, M5 south between Bristol and Bridgwater and M25 anticlockwise between Hertfordshire and Surrey are predicted to see more than twice the normal amount of traffic, with vehicle speeds reduced to just 12mph at some points in the day.

Easter Sunday is forecast to see a similar number of leisure journeys being made by drivers (2.7m), with Easter Saturday and Easter Monday only slightly less busy with 2.3m separate trips each.

But it appears a large number of drivers are waiting to see what the great British weather has in store before deciding which day to jump in the car – with the potential for another 7m trips to be staggered throughout the long weekend.

And with planned engineering work on the railway, including the closure of London Euston station over the whole weekend, more people look certain to be forced onto the roads.

The good news for drivers, if there is some, is that National Highways is temporarily lifting around 1,400 miles of roadworks from Thursday to help alleviate the queues.

Knowing that just a single breakdown can cause traffic to grind to a halt, the RAC is recommending drivers make sure their vehicles are ‘road-ready’ before setting off.

Top tips for a better trip this bank holiday – from teams at the RAC

  • “Make sure you’ve got enough fuel in your vehicle to get to your destination. If you’re driving an electric car, plan in your charging stops before you set out and check any faults with chargers using an app like Zap-Map.” – RAC patrol, eastern England
  • “Keep any important medicine that you or your passengers need in the car with you, and carry some extra medication in case you break down and get delayed.” – RAC patrol, eastern England
  • “Check your level of breakdown cover matches the journeys you’ll be making. If you’re driving a long distance, have you got national recovery so you can get home again if your car lets you down?” – RAC customer service agent, West Midlands
  • “Keep your locking wheel nut somewhere you can easily find it as this makes it quicker for us to do a tyre change if needed. And download and use the free MyRAC mobile app as it makes it much easier for us to find you.” – RAC patrol, south west England
  • “Check your tyres every time, especially the inside front edges. And whatever you do, don’t start a journey with a known problem!” – RAC patrol, south west England

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