Fuel duty is an emotive subject, as demonstrators have proved in the past – remember the Fuel Price Protests of 2000? But is a tax on fuel an effective way of limiting CO2 output?
Manufacturers are spending millions in research and development to design cars that use less fuel. But for me, there’s no better incentive than high fuel prices to encourage greener driving.
More fuel duty rises are planned for us Brits – an increase of 1p per litre this autumn, followed by an increase of 0.76p in January next year. And even before any oil price fluctuations have been accounted for, this will push prices towards £1.32 a litre.
Driver training will improve fuel consumption
I’ve undertaken driver training, and although I’ll admit I don’t necessarily follow every nuance of the techniques, you can save a fair amount of fuel with some very basic pointers.
Plus, if a fuel price increase forced everyone to drive more efficiently, there could be gains in safety. One of the best ways of improving fuel consumption is to drive defensively and think ahead – which clearly has benefits for safety, too.
Additionally, lower speeds generally mean less fuel consumption. So, if driver anticipation improved, and average speeds dropped, then accident and injury rates ought to follow the same trend.
Are our cars really ‘necessary’?
There are those that claim a car is a ‘necessity’ – particularly those in rural areas who can’t (or won’t) use public transport. Any fuel prices rises would, they argue, unfairly penalise them.
But is that really true in all cases? I suspect there are many who live in a pretty, rural area and drive to a city to work. Is this a necessity – or just a lifestyle choice?
So, more or less fuel tax?
But how would you feel if car tax was abolished in favour of a rise in fuel duty? And would it actually affect your driving behaviour?
Personally, I’d prefer car tax (Vehicle Excise Duty, or VED) to be paid through fuel, rather than as a separate annual levy. That way, we’d all be forced to think twice before jumping in the car – which would (in the end) encourage alternative forms of transport.